When it comes to the Mesquite Toes and Vicki Eckman you just expect these ladies to push things to the limit and they didn’t disappoint their audience during their 10th annual Christmas Benefit Show which was held on December 11 and 12 at the Mesquite Community Theatre.
This performance is one of many for the year, one that all of these ladies take very seriously due to the nature of this particular show. The Toes annual Christmas Show is a benefit for the Virgin Valley Food Bank. Every penny raised for this event helps to provide emergency food assistance to more than 100 families that live in the Mesquite area.
The Christmas Benefit show is just one of the many performances this takes great pride in. The average age of the Mesquite Toes dancers is 70. These ladies, under the leadership of Eckman, have entertained audiences all over the world from Alaska to the Mediterranean.
Eckman and her troupes have been performing to give this Christmas miracle to the families of Mesquite for ten years now but have just experienced their own Christmas miracle.
Most recently the group took a trip to Branson, Missouri to perform and did quite well until their ride to the airport took a turn for the worse and, after a brief stop for lunch, they were left stranded on the side of the road with just a little time left before their flight back home was to take off.
The flight was at 3:30 p.m. and they stopped for lunch about 1 p.m. They had plenty of time…or so they thought. After lunch they loaded onto the bus which was to take them to the airport and the bus wouldn’t start.
“There were two fellas on the bus with us, Ross Miller and his friend who were both engineers. The two men said they could fix the bus, they just needed a knife. They went about knocking on car windows asking people for a knife. After a few minutes they finally located a knife and, as promised, fixed the bus,” Eckman said. “They got the bus started, it was the first miracle.”
The Toes were on the road again for about two miles and when they were traveling down the highway the bus broke down once more; the knife offered no help this time.
The group found themselves stranded on the side of the freeway with their entire luggage out on the grass with no mechanical help on the way and only an hour and a half before their flight.
Eckman described the parade of vehicles and the drivers who stopped to give the group rides. There was a man with his Christmas tree who told the group that he had room for two or three people, various taxis, a shuttle bus and a limousine.
Eckman says she stayed with the sinking ship and was the last to leave the bus. When she arrived at the airport at about 3 p.m. she was greeted by a plethora of pink outfits in various check in lines throughout the terminal and thought, “We’ll never catch our plane.”
All of a sudden a sign that flashed and caught Eckman’s attention, one of the members said “It’s just like Della Reese appeared right then and there.” The sign said, “Priority boarding-First Class Passengers. Eckman said there was nobody in line so she went to the attendant behind the counter and explained to her, “There are 49 passengers, our bus broke down on the way to the airport and the plane leaves at 3:30, can you help us?”
Eckman said, “The Southwest Airline attendant and three others opened 4 counters and that was our Christmas miracle…we all got on the plane. Of course they did hold the plane because we were half of the passengers. Actually the real miracle occurred when we landed in Vegas and had all of our luggage.”
Eckman continues to lead her troupes to new places not only in the geographical sense but in their performance skills as well.
To this year’s show which brings their entire repertoire to 167 numbers. They’ve added new members to their troupe also in the form of their new Musical Theatre ensemble which performed the Toes rendition of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas complete with all the Who’s the community theatre stage could handle.
The audience found themselves searching for the next place the Grinch would pop up in the audience, he seemed to move effortlessly around the full house but in actuality the Grinch was played by several of the new Musical Theatre Ensemble members John Sadler, Phil Brittain, Mark Guertin and Mike Schultz.
You can look forward to Eckman, the rest of the Toes and their special guests to wow you with all their skills, costumes and new performances in their next adventure The Mesquite Toes Dance Spectacular which is scheduled for April 16, 17 and 18, 2015 at the Mesquite Community Theatre.