Rehearsals for the opening ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games moved to the outdoor stadium of the Kentucky Horse Park Thursday night. The semi-dress rehearsal started at showtime, 7 p.m., and clocked in right around three hours.
With many marquee starts still yet to arrive, there were amusing moments, such as emcee Roger Leasor introducing Wynonna Judd and UK voice student Lashelle Allen taking the stage (and delivering a My Old Kentucky Home Wy might find hard to follow). That happened again when Alicia McCorvey stood in for Denyce Graves and Gregory Turay subbed for Ronan Tynan.
While not a complete show, the stumble-through rehearsal gave us some ideas what to look for Saturday night, whether you are coming out to the Horse Park or watching on WLEX.
Local talent: Much has been made of the big name acts lending their talent to the show, including Bluegrass stars Cherryholmes and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But there is plenty of local talent on stage and behind the scenes, from the legion of more than 150 area children that will pop up frequently and the dancers with the Lexington Ballet to the lighting design by UK’s Tanya Harper and production supervisor Mark Schlackman, who keeps everything moving.
Beautiful blends of horse and man: The show has been billed as a mix of human and equine talent, and they frequently mix beautifully. One to really watch for is Dan James’ ride atop two horses as Metropolitan Opera Stars Graves and Cynthia Lawrence, now part of UK’s voice faculty, sing Leo Delibes’ Flower Duet from Lakme.
Brushes with history: The entertainment portion of the program, which will begin with a parade of nations and proclamations from Mayor Jim Newberry, Gov. Steve Beshear and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, president of the International Equestrian Federation, purports to tell the story of America. One moment to appreciate is Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, singing her granddad’s anthem This Land is Your Land as Stacy Westfall rides bareback in the ring.
Three ring circus: The Wide Open West segment floods the arena with The California Cowgirls
Equestrian Drill Team, Vince Bruce, The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Tommie Turvey and Dan James, one of several times you don’t know quite where to look because so much is happening.
Stories: Mixed in amongst the tunes and horse tricks are numerous stories of artists and their journies to that stage. Think about Wynonna Judd, once living in poverty is rural Madison County, now singing Kentucky’s song at one of the Commonwealth’s biggest events ever. Think about the Haitian Harmony children, who just departed their impoverished nation Wednesday and now sing before thousands of people with major stars.
It’s quite a way to start a fortnight of huge dreams.