Sunday, March 08, 2009

I was Arvide:

One of the things I've missed in my life is performing in plays, or – better yet – musicals. I feel that it would have been tons of fun. Unfortunately, I discovered my desire to perform rather late in life to do anything about it, and the possibility of such a time-consuming activity never seemed to fit my life-style. Chances are, I would have been a wooden actor of no interest to anyone. And I had no decent singing voice for musicals until I was in my fifties. But I had my moment.

During the summer, at a summer camp, I played Arvide in the musical Guys and Dolls. I had a lovely ballad to sing, and a decent scene to act in. We put on two performances. Afterward, the director's assistant told me that she had expected me to be a total flop, but I turned her expectations around in one inspired moment.

There's a scene where a few of the gangsters visit the Save-a-Soul Mission, operated by Arvide and his wife Agatha. Agatha goes offstage to prepare coffee. I knew my part, and I knew the musical well, so in the first performance, I knew exactly when Agatha missed her queue to come back onstage. A few lines later, it was time for me to pour coffee, and Agatha still stood in the wings, holding a tray and looking miserable. I ad-libbed, “Agatha, please bring the coffee.” She walked onstage, and all was well.

Ahhh, the smell of grease paint. I don't even know what it smells like.
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