CTMT 2015: Opening night

After an absolutely rocking Opening Night at the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2015, I realised that I must have been beaming from ear to ear all the way home, humming the tunes of Band of Brothers, Highland Cathedral and The Prayer out loud. I felt like I was floating on a cloud!

I had missed the Dress Rehearsal on Tuesday night due to a pounding headache, much to my chagrin, as it’s the only time photographers can get close to and into the middle of the action. As a result, I had no idea what to expect on the Opening Night, because I hadn’t seen a full run-through of the entire show yet.

The Kat Balcony is all lit up at the start of the show

The Kat Balcony is all lit up at the start of the show

The daytime rehearsals in the arena, and even the partial run-through on Monday evening, had not involved all the participants. Nor had everyone been in their correct uniforms for the show. And making sure that all the acts know exactly when and where they have to enter and exit the arena, and that the wranglers know when and how far to move the conductor’s podium, the raised platforms with the stationary musical instruments, and all the various props, also takes some sorting out and fine-tuning. The same with lighting and sound, which too need to be tweaked and adjusted and recalibrated…

But everyone knows that, whatever issues may arise during the Dress Rehearsal, they need to be sorted out in time for Opening Night – in the military, they take pride in doing things right.

Well, let me tell you, I was blown away.

From the word go, our announcer Andy Dippenaar (the voice behind the annual South African Tattoo in Montecasino) engaged with the close-to-capacity audience, encouraging them to cheer and applaud – and they responded beautifully. His narration between the different acts wove things together so well that it really felt like the theme of this year’s Tattoo – paying tribute to the men and women who fought and died in World War I – was drawn through the entire show. The presence of Joey the War Horse, who participated in several of the acts, added that bit of extra spice to the blend.

The traditional Lone Piper on the 'ramparts' ends off the evening's performance

The traditional Lone Piper on the ‘ramparts’ ends off the evening’s performance

I felt sooo privileged to be behind the scenes again, and to experience the spell-binding magic of what has been and is still developing into a world-class event. By the end of the evening, as the last musicians filed out of the arena and we made our way to our cars, I was already feeling a tad melancholic at the thought that all of us would be going our separate ways again after Saturday evening’s Final Show.

Every year, since the first time I was backstage in 2010, I have gotten to know more and more of the people who pour their hearts and souls into this event, and seeing the familiar friendly faces again each year and catching up with each others’ lives is simply wonderful. And it’s been great to meet and befriend some new people too! The friendships and the easy-going camaraderie among people, both from the Reserves and the Regular Force, who are accustomed to pulling together and doing their bit the best they can, are, for me, the best part of the whole experience.

Here are just some of the photos I took last night, as I don’t want to spoil the event for you if you do have tickets to any of the shows. (Apart from that, I am pressed for time again – gotta go, gotta go! … :-))

Remember that you can click on any of the images below to access the slideshow.

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