I was all set to have a special guest this week then, whoops! I realized reading Iris’s post on Monday that we still had a theme going: At a Play
I have not had as much experience attending plays as I would like. I truly enjoy movies with their sweeping scenery, but there is something about seeing a live performance that is exciting and almost electric.
My first and only big role in a play I mentioned on Janette’s post a few days ago. I had the role of Little Bo Peep in a second-grade “Mother Goose” musical. My mother made a beautiful dress for me; I wish I had a picture of it. It had a white, square-necked top with lace around the edges, she had also inserted embroidered blue flowers at the corners to match the blue skirt. I wore a pair or my grandmother’s pantaloons which we happened to have. We made a hat with flowers that I hardly remember, but the policeman who lived next door volunteered to take a six-foot aluminum pipe he used to his Christmas lights and bend it into a cook, to which my mother covered with crepe paper and added a bow. Our teacher’s husband made a bridge that we crossed over in the course of the play. All would have been lovely except my teacher told me that I sang flat and I was very insecure about performing. I would not let my mother attend it.(But I think I still remember my lines and song.)
The next year I was sick a great deal, so I did not get a part in the big play, but they wanted to utilize me. Apparently I had somehow impressed them the year before despite my fears. They gave me an opening act that could be left out if I fell ill. I recited a poem about the importance and enjoyment of books. A classmate was sent with me to the school library to find a suitable prop, as the opening line of the poem was: “This is a book, a bright-colored book”. That’s all I remember but I do recall that the book had a very colorful rooster on the front. I carried the performance off pretty well I guess, but I never pursued acting later on. However, I will make an admission I have only told one other person: The only time I ever dreamed I was anyone else was when I was a teenager. In the dream I was a famous actress, finishing a play and taking bows onstage. Strangely, I at the end of that same dream I was another actress, a non-singer, but I was going onstage to sing an opera. I woke as I was about to go through the curtain to belt out the best “Turandot” of my career! I have never dreamed before or after that I was ever anyone else, so I have never forgotten that one. Strange.
I’ll go with a kiddie theme and say that I have been to many children’s performances with school groups and Scouts. I went with my sons and saw a “Pinocchio” that was fair in a little theater group, but the fellow who played the fox did a job that was worthy of any great actor. He was outstanding… and I am a hard audience. When we were in line as the actors met the children afterward, I shook his hand along with others but blurted out, “You’re GOOD!”. I amused those around me, which is good because I had been worried that I would offend the other actors. The fellow was taken aback. He stammered, “Well, thank you!” Some years ago we saw “A Christmas Carol “at the Fort Knox theater. The “Bob Cratchit” was also an incredible, stand-out performance. You never know where you will see great acting.
Another notable performance was from two seasons ago. I live in the town that has the house that inspired Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home”. On the grounds of the home, (Federal Hill), they now have an amphitheater and every year there are performances of a musical loosely based on the life of Stephen Foster. I say “loosely based on” because poor Stephen died a pauper with everyone making money off of his music but him. (This was the reason Victor Herbert and a few others, including John Philip Sousa, started ASCAP, to collect royalties due composers and musicians, but I digress.) The play has an upbeat ending and people come in by the busload to see what the locals simply call “The Musical”, but in the past few years they have added another play to alternate with it, (and bring in more money). The last one I saw was “The Wizard of Oz”.
They managed to get three pair of look-alike actors to play the farmhands with the alternate set to play the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow. The biggest surprised was a rocking number done by the Wicked Witch. I stopped her to tell her how fantastic she was as she was passing through to get to her dressing room. All the kids wanted pictures with Dorothy and the others, but not many looked for her. She seemed grateful for the attention. We both walked away feeling good.
The last play I attended as a chaperone was with a third-grade class who took me to see “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever”. If you don’t know that story, it is good in a book but great in a play…but read it before you go; I did not.
There I was, trying so hard NOT to cry, but enjoying every moment of it! It is a very moving story and the actors, adults and all the kids, were so good, I was very touched…again, it was electric!
Have you ever been that moved at a performance? I readily admit to weeping over movies and books, (but this was publicly embarrassing!)
Anyone have theater/performance experiences they wish to share?