Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I auditioned for a play recently. I know, I know. That doesn't seem like me at all. It didn't feel like me either. But I did it anyway. My church is doing a play called The Countdown. They've done it many times over the years, although it changes a bit each time. It's a really powerful drama and, although I clearly have no business being on any stage, I just wanted to be a part of it.

At the audition they had me read the part of a 29-year-old pregnant girl. Since I'm closer to 40 than 30, I wasn't sure I had the acting chops to pull that one off.  They must have agreed, because I didn't get that part.  But I did get the part of the Waitress.  She's has a few lines in a few scenes and acts as comic relief.  Right up my ally.  However, at one of our first rehearsals, they realized that there was another person in the scene, a wife.  They forgot to cast someone for the part, so I read it just so that the scene could continue.  In the immortal words of Sally Field, they liked me.  They really liked me.  So I got an upgrade from comic relief waitress to psychotic wife.  (Keep the comments to yourself.)

I haven't done anything like this since high school. In fact, all of my acting and any involvement in the theateical arts was almost exclusively done in high school plays with the exception of one youth-group rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when I was about seven years old.  I played Dopey.  One word.  Typecasting.  Since that triumphant performance, I was occasionally on stage, but rarely seen, in a grand total of four musicals.  I never spoke a word on stage until my senior year of high school.  And now I'll take you on a walk down my personal Memory Lane.

The first play I was in was Oklahoma.  Okay, I wasn't actually in the play. I was on Stage Crew.  I like Stage Crew. You're part of the team, but nobody sees you if you trip and fall flat on your face because every time you're out there it's pitch black and nobody can see, which is likely why you tripped and fell in the first place. Not that that specific thing has ever happened to me.


Anyhow, Oklahoma. As part of my Stage Crew duties, I got to run the lights.  The lights were located in a giant cage off stage left. Or is it stage right?  I can never remember if the directions are based on if you're on the stage looking out at the audience or if your in the audience looking up at the stage. I suppose I should figure that out so that I don't end up walking off the edge of the stage in The Countdown. The lights were controlled by three big levers, one red, one yellow and one blue. With all my might I would crank those levers up and down to get just the right mood lighting to help set the scene. "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", crank up the yellow. "Poor Jud is Dead", that song requires some ominous blue light.  It gave me a feeling of control.  Plus, we got to wear these headsets with microphones that let all the members of the crew talk to each other.  It was fun.

You see a lot of things when your on the Stage Crew. Things that no audience member should ever see.  For example, the kid up on the catwalk whose job it was to raise and lower different scenery had a birds-eye view of the stage and announced over the headset that one should not wear underwear with dark purple polka dots while wearing a light yellow dress. And there was the girl, smack in the middle of the stage, hands on her knees with her tush sticking out towards stage left (or is it right), polka dots a-blazin. And that's the story of how the entire Stage Crew got struck with the giggles on opening night.

The next year was Little Shop of Horrors. I was on stage longer than any other character in the
production. But I was invisible. Or rather, camouflaged. I was one of the two puppeteers than moved the giant 14-foot Audry II alien plant while it's lines were delivered by an actor off stage. Audry II was made out of two 12-foot rubber rafts attached to a base that hinged. It was more impressive than it sounds. It was controlled by me and a girl named Beth holding onto a raft handles on each boat on either side and flapping with all out might while we were disguised as giant leaves.  Those boats are a lot heavier than they look.  To this day I blame my disproportionately large biceps on Audry II and not on my hearty, potato-digging heritage.

During my Junior year our school did The Sound of Music.  They brought in some kids from the grammar school to play some of the smaller children and short seniors for the rest.  I don't know why, but for some reason it really bothered me that it wasn't strictly a high school musical, but was turning into some sort of community theater.  Maybe it was because I was an extra nun.  But I have to admit, it was one of the most fun plays I was in.  I became close friends with my fellow nuns and learned to sing in Latin.  I have no idea what I was saying, but to this day I can sing along with the chorus during the beginning of the movie.  :-)  And quite honestly, I was just glad to be a human and not a plant that year.

"Only bad witches are ugly."
In my final year of high school, we did The Wizard of Oz.  I so badly wanted to play the part of Glinda, but realized that I wouldn't get the part when I spoke the line, "Only bad witches are ugly."  Oh... yeah... well, that's not going to work with me.  Maybe I should have tried out for the wicked witch.  But there was a girl who already had a really great cackle.  Last year's joy of being cast as a human being was short-lived when I read the cast list and discovered that I would be playing Tree #1 in the haunted forest.  I was back to being a plant.  But I did have lines.  Three of them!  Here they are:

"Hey!  What do you think YOU'RE doing?!?"

"She was hungry!"

"Worms!  Did he say worms!"

And then I got to throw apples at Dorothy and the Tin Man.  Totally worth it.

Anyhow, I assumed my acting days were behind me.  But I felt compelled to try out for the church play.  I'm really excited to be a part of it.  If you live in the Rochester area, please come and see it!  Either you will really enjoy it and you will go out for pie afterward, or you will hate it, you can still go out for pie afterward, plus you'll have the added benefit of being able to make fun of that chick you know from high school/college/work/Facebook/quirky blog.  Win-Win-Win!

Click here to download free tickets to the show.  They're giving away a $20 Visa Gift Card at every performance!  Performances are the first two weekends in November, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, and 10th, at 7:00 PM each night.