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The Rambling Sailors a love story in costume

The Rambling Sailors, Florida Renaissance Festival 2014
The Rambling Sailors, Florida Renaissance Festival 2014
Photo by: Joleen Koehly

Part of the excitement of covering larger local area events, such as the Florida Renaissance Festival, is the multitude of stories within the community of individuals that it takes to run such a project. Bobby Rodriguez Productions annually puts together a festival with hundreds of individual performers seamlessly managed to give festival visitors a high caliber interactive experience that is individualized to the audience and, as such, is never exactly the same way twice. This is the best of interactive theater because it’s not done at the audience but with the audience. The individual performers know their craft so well that the audience suspends belief and forgets that they all have their own individual stories.

The festival brochure points the reader towards a story that appears too intriguing not to follow up on. The promotional materials tell us that, “Rambling Sailors is a new effort by performers Gregg and Susan Csikos. Both successful soloists in their own right, Gregg and Susan performed for over a decade individually.” The group’s Facebook page explains a bit further that “Susan met Gregg at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, and they became mutual fans, then friends, then band members - and eventually family.” These intriguing snippets of information hint at two “star-crossed lovers” traversing the festival circuit individually until one day fate brought them together, or, had they been friends for years and years eventually realizing they were meant to be together?

The truth, it turns out, is somewhere in between the two scenarios. Over lunch Susan tells me the story. It was a song that Susan wrote that initiated their friendship. She shared a song with a friend who then shared it with his friend, Greg, who liked the song so much he went on to perform the song in his act. At Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Susan, sat down to watch a fellow performer, that performer was Greg and when he began to sing her song, she sat happily in the audience singing along. Greg noticed that she knew all the words to the song and assumed that she had learned the song from the friend who originally played the song for him. After his set was completed he went up and asked Susan if she had learned the song from their mutual friend. That’s when she told him she had actually written the song. So they began a friendship based on mutual respect and common interests. Susan had decided to stop looking for “Mr. Right” and concentrate on her career and Greg was in a relationship that was beginning to morph from romance to a life-long friendship between two people who cared deeply for each other but wanted different things in life. Greg went off to try another career, but the musician’s life called him back and the time was right for two friends to become” band mates then family.” Together they now perform the “Sea Chanteys, Nautical tunes and Piratical songs” they both enjoy and they continue to write and perform their own original material inspired by such icons as “Stan Hugill, The Ancient Mariner Chanteymen, The Corsairs, and Tom Lewis”.

One of the things that is so compelling about this story is that it’s a grown-up love story about two people who had careers and lives and who had a solid friendship built on mutual respect who eventually fell in love for all the right reasons.

Of course, it’s impossible to close the interview without asking about costumes, after-all this is a love story in costume, two costumed soloist performers melding their musical performances, costume wardrobes and their lives into a joint effort. Susan mentions that they wear what is comfortable and easy to move in but also best fits the theme of the festival or fair at which they are performing. The fairs usually have specific time periods everywhere from 12th Century to the pirate heyday of the 17th and 18th century. Greg actually has more experience with costume having worked for a while with Pendragon Costumes. As singers they have to give additional consideration to how well they can breathe in the costume and they have to be able to move well so they can play their instruments and move about the stage fairly freely. So, though she often wears a period appropriate corset, very pointy tight-laced corsets don’t work for her as a singer, and she emphasizes they must have comfortable shoes otherwise they are miserable.

Catch the Rambling Sailors for one more weekend, this Saturday and Sunday at the Florida Renaissance Festival at Quiet Waters Park. It’s Celtic Weekend and don’t miss the “Men in Kilts” contest. This is a great way to spend the weekend right before Saint Patrick’s Day. The Rambling Sailors are on the Beer Garden Stage both Saturday and Sunday at 11:00am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:00pm. This is their last weekend in Florida before they move onto the Texas leg of their tour.

The Florida Renaissance Festival is playing a final weekend at Quiet Waters Park and moving onto Cauley Square Historic Village starting next week-end and running for three weekends through April 13th 2014.

If you too have a “love story in costume” please share the story with me for a possible future article. Contact Joleen at joleenkoehly@aol.com.