Home Columns The Big Show of May 2014

The Big Show of May 2014

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A comedy show for the community was being planned by the seniors of Whitewater Region. The directors/writers were Milly and Molly.
Applicants for actors, singers, dancers and stagehands to land a part in the show were plentiful. But one had to be physically fit. Those with breathing problems, arthritis, heart murmurs and mood disorders were sent packing. Shattering `but necessary.
Practices got underway. The directors ruthless in their demands. Timing to be spot on, stage dress worn without a wrinkle or a coffee stain and even name-brand deodorant used beforehand. They were like unforgiving Hollywood directors Francis Ford Coppola and Alfred Hitchcock, critical of every misstep, sour note and a nervous cough
Opening of the show and between acts Milly and Molly were attired as old ladies chewing the fat and adlibbing. They kept the audience eating it up and howling for more. They were never more loveable or silly, at least when they were role playing.
In my case I dropped into the Hall out of curiosity. Milly handed me some typed pages and said, “Learn them.” I didn’t have a chance to say “no.” After reading them later, I was too embarrassed to admit that I had a poor memory since the age of puberty and it was much worse since I retired.
Or did it mean if I had been earlier to the Hall or maybe later, would I have been assigned a farming skit or even worse, have my butt exposed while draped over the bathtub. Not the gong show surely; they were all “big” men strutting around with their paraphernalia. Maybe Ms. J. didn’t either. Dressed as a little Dutch girl with pigtails, she lost control of her wig while accompanying those four hunks with a song called ‘Jimmy Brown’ but didn’t miss one note even with her wig skewed.
Somehow actors, singers and dancers were parachuted in from as far away as Cobden and Foresters Falls. Some of them thought they were pretty good and surprisingly they were, a sure sign that amalgamation was starting to gel. The Beachburg Connection kept the ambience lively.
Practice: It seems that’s all we ever did. Nothing ended up the way it started. Lines were switched, changed and sometimes bastardized on the spot. Roles were reversed and in duets it was hard to know who was singing to whom or why.
In my case when I was on the stage, I went from standing at a podium, to sitting in three different chairs, once with a step stool for my feet, drinking a bottle of beer first then water, the curtain opened while entering from off stage then later opening while I was on stage. Even as I was heading to the Hall for our first live performance, I panicked trying to remember what of all those positions I was to be in!
Fortunately, our prep, prop, gofer crew or whatever, three very adept persons, took care of the performers for their needs like arranging the microphones but warning us not to talk unless we were supposed to – some of us didn’t listen. I said a few things over the system I regret.
One elderly man, known as the Mayor of Zion Line, was wanting to buy Viagra from Beach-West Pharmacy in one of the skits.
Molly, as the old lady sitting at a bench flashed a punk into bolting after seeing such a sight for the first time.
There was remorse for a nice easy-going guy who was tricked into exiting at Arnprior instead of Ottawa and without a parachute.
Those Illusion Dancers had me so confused about whose leg was whose. I wondered if anyone on stage ever felt up the wrong one. What an exciting opener for this program though.
My turn to be on finally came. I had tremors in my legs, trembling hands, a parched mouth and the fear of god running through my veins. If anyone had winked or whistled at me wearing my make-up and red bow tie, I would have collapsed.
Finally it was over. Yes, I blew a few lines. When singing in the finale, I overheard Milly mutter, “You just can’t teach Bobby anything.” With that, the curtain closed forever on my stage career!