Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little

I just spent a delightful afternoon with the Clay Middle School Drama Club--the cast of "The Music Man" at the Hook's Drug Store Museum and Soda Fountain (at the State Fairgrounds). This was a pre-arranged visit for them...the producer, Patty Keller, wanted them to have a field trip experience back to the turn of the century, which was the time period for "The Music Man", and thought our little step-back-in-time would fit the bill nicely.

I got to the Museum early. Barb (the soda jerk) was there already, so the place was open and warmed up and ready to go and as their arrival time grew near, I felt my anticipation growing. Although we've given tours before, this one was different; there were theatre kids coming, and I felt a kinship with this group. This would be fun.

And oh, it was!! They tumbled off the bus, all in their show shirts, talking, laughing, and LOUD!!! I stood on a chair to address them about the history of the building and the role that the old time pharmacy played in small town America. I showed them some of the things I found most interesting and intriguing in the museum. They weren't shy with their questions and they laughed at my answers. And then I turned them loose to get a soda. They knew...they I, in my KidsPlay hoodie, was one of them.

It was then that the fun started. Standing in line for sodas (all 45 of them), they chattered and sang. I heard snatches of "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" and "Trouble" and some choruses from "Les Mis". They zipped around, looking at the various medicines and oddities in the museum, buying and sampling the retro candy. They bought up all the candy cigarettes and sen-sen. Guess later on they'll be "tryin' out tailor-mades like cigarette fiends and braggin' all about how they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen...." Heh-heh. Too funny. One of the parents that was with them was the props mistress, and she bought a bunch of the big lollipops and some of the retro signs. She asked about our bags printed with the name of a pharmacist, and I gave her a stack of them. How could I not. She talked about her suitcase collection and I talked about my telephone collection. We bonded.

Finally, when everyone had a soda and had bought up all the candy they could afford, they piled back onto the bus, still laughing, talking, and being loud. I was sad to see them go, and I promised to try and make it to the show. It was a wonderful afternoon--and just what the doctor ordered...

What fun, what fun! And it was just what the doctor ordered...

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Actress's Journal...

Every show is a journey, a lifetime...and I'm about to begin another.

We're doing "Steel Magnolias". We, meaning CrazyLake Acting Company. I'm not directing, but producing, with hopes of being IN the show.

The director is my close friend. This is his first venture at directing. He's nervous and he's excited. As am I. Nervous and excited. I think back to the thoughts I had just moments before taking the stage in "Fiddler". So nervous was I, that I thought, "I can't do this to myself again." Yet here I am, poised to do just that in "Steel Magnolias". But it's an opportunity I can't pass up, a once-in-a-lifetime part. It's a goal I'm working towards.

So today, I sat with my friend, the director, with whom I will make this journey, in whom I have entrusted something that is most precious to me--my theatre group, our integrity, our reputation for quality. We talked about the show: about character, costume, hair (the whole show takes place in a beauty parlor), the relationships between the women. The collaboration between us, the melding of ideas is something to behold, almost magical.

I wanted to try out my southern dialect on him. He listened and then he said, "Leave the hiccuppy thing out; use just YOUR voice with the dialect." I stopped, imagined it, listened to it in my head, and mentally made the changes.

When I looked up, he was watching me intently and seriously. It was a very tentative moment. His 'note' for my voice was out of his mouth almost before he thought about it--and our decision to switch roles suddenly became reality. He slowly smiled, first with his eyes, and then the corners of his mouth, and I started to laugh. Oh, friendship is a wonderful thing! The secret brotherhood of making good theatre is a joy that cannot be rivaled. And I knew at that moment that my friend, this student of character and script, would not betray my trust in him.

I took his direction very seriously, and I know that, when all was said and done, I will learn something from from him, from this journey, this experience, this collaboration, this chance to act, rather than direct.

And all is right in the theatre world.