Words On Play

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?


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to Words On Play

  1. pjharjo says:

    You say you, “have not had as much experience attending plays” as you would like, but you still came up with an amazing blog to write, Tonette! I wish I had the childhood memory of the Little Bo Peep play you have. 🙂 Your story is very interesting. I can just “see” how cute you were in your costume!

    I haven’t had any more live theater experiences you have, so would have no idea if one could move me as it has you. I will admit I am the only person I know who is moved to tears every time they watch Song of the South. DARN but I wish they would show that again! But some power somewhere has decided that it is too “politically incorrect” to show, so they don’t. People have gotten too sensitive about too many things, if you ask me. It was written about the times that were when the movie was produced. You can’t change historical fact.

    I found the animated feature very entertaining, I’ve seen it several times, and like I said, it moves me to tears each time I see it.


  2. Thanks, Janette…I hope I was cute.I wish the teacher had been instructive instead of critical.
    As for Song of the South, what keeps it out of circulation is the fact that the slaves act happy in it. I guess some may have had pleasant times in their lives but let’s face it, no matter how decent the master , how easy the work in few choice homes,none of us would want to be a slave. “Happy being a slave” is probably not a myth to perpetuate. It is too bad that whatever good was in it had to go out with the bad. But,I can see the problem of it.
    I don’t know if it is still available , but I heard some years ago that one could actually see Disney’s Song of the South on laser disk…in Japanese.(Good luck with that!)


  3. Iris B says:

    The mention of Christmas triggered the memory that as children we went to a Christmas play every year. It was organised by dad’s employer. The two plays I can still remember are The Nutcracker and The Snowqueen. I loved the snowqueen then, and I assume that’s why “Frozen” is one of my favourite movies at the moment.


    • I don’t know why my early answer to you did not appear here,Iris! Since you and my grandkids insisted that I see “Frozen” , (and I thank you very much,I love it!), I have meant to find a version of the original” Snow Queen” to read, but keep forgetting…there’s bound (!) to be one in a fairytale book around here somewhere.
      As for :The Nutcracker”, once again, I have been spoiled by seeing a live performance. I’d go every year if it was up to me. I run it on the TV, bit it simply isn’t the same.


  4. jeff7salter says:

    wish you had a pix of the Bo Peep character you played.
    Glad you took those opportunities to congratulate the players whose performances had impressed you. I bet they still remember those encounters.


    • Maybe the actors do,Jeff.At least I know I tried to let them know how well they did…maybe they knew!
      I wish I still had the DRESS! It was a real nice piece of work. Thanks.


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