Saturday, July 2, 2011

You’re never too old to have kid-style fun. I’ve gotten an extra summer job – in a play. I’m the judge’s assistant/stage manager/sign carrier/ sound effects – and also sometimes the ticket-seller and usher for a new theatre in Montour Falls. You can find information on it if you look up the Old Havana Courthouse Theatre on Google – it’s a summer theatre for melodrama.

The plays are short and silly. Here we are in the “Old Cookie Shop” where the heroine, Nellie (Sara Eisman, in the long yellow skirt) is valiantly baking because she “kneads the dough .” Her evil landlord, Mortimer Whiplash (Joe, on the far right in the picture) is about to foreclose on the cookie shop’s mortgage (or rent, it’s not completely clear). Nellie’s mother, in the aqua apron (Jane, who’s a health inspector by day and sometimes a professional clown after hours – she taught a clowning class I took several years ago) is told throughout the play that she’s ill because the heroine’s mother in any melodrama is always ailing. The tall guy on the right, in back of the villain, is playing all the bit parts and at one point comes out on stage to say he can’t come out on stage because he hasn’t changed his costume yet. The tall girl in the back row was carrying signs last night – these are the ones that remind the audience to cheer or boo. And all the way on the left, the old guy in the hat is supposed to be the love interest. No photos of the villain getting “pied” – because when this photo was taken, it hadn’t happened yet. Not seen is the singing and dancing cockroach, in a brown polyester outfit with waving tentacles which is so very hot, he only wears it when he has to.

Okay, so here’s how the play ends… there’s a last-minute story about a dark and stormy night when two babies were born – and then accidentally switched by an absent-minded nurse. It turns out that sweet Nellie actually owns the cookie shop and a nice bank account and it’s her evil landlord who has nothing (except the pie, which is actually made of shaving cream).

The theatre is very basic, and the backstage areas are very small. Everyone has to change in a room the size of my bathroom, so everyone wears body suits under their costumes – or arrives dressed. We’re not only actors but support staff and stage crew. Last night I sold tickets; other actors ushered or took tickets; two operated the chair lift. During the play, I do sound effects too. Last night the villain wanted to create his own shaving-cream “pie” because he said I put too much shaving cream in the previous one. When he came off-stage last night after getting pied with his own concoction, he complained that this time he’d inhaled shaving cream. (He also ate some). I guess villains will always be villains!

But it really is fun! Our audiences are fairly good, and they always leave smiling. We do too.