Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh say, can you see?

What a weekend! I was on stage, surrounded by students in 3rd-9th grade, and all I could do was cry. Seriously...that's all I was allowed to do aloud. My only line was "Whaaaaaa!"

Perhaps I should explain.

For the past eight years, I've been working with Giant Step Theatre: a children's theatre based in Lakeville, Minnesota. (Visit them at www.myspace.com/giantsteptheatre.) I coach the actors and create the choreography (although we call it "Deweyography," because it's not really possible to get 60 3rd- and 4th-graders dressed like mice to actually...you know...dance) and, whenever possible, have an onstage role as well. (Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty's father, Snow White's ugly step-mother...)

Well, I was slated to be the Witch from Thataway (Giant Step's twisted version of the Wicked Witch of the West), because the director loves to see me in a dress. The fly in that ointment was the plethora of highly-talented students that showed up at auditions. We had to give the role to a couple high school freshmen who blew our socks off (our shows always have two casts, trading off performances, because we can't get 200 actors on stage at the same time). The blowing off of socks is not something we usually require at auditions, but these gals went the extra mile.

As a consession to my ego, and because the parents of our actors like having a semi-adult-type person involved in the on-stage action -- in case one of the little darlings forgets a line or gets a splinter or has an uncontrollable need to kick someone in the shins -- I was cast as Little Leroy, the youngest Munchkin. (It is a little-known fact that Munchkins are born big and get gradually smaller as they age.) My one scene involves opening a huge present, out of which pops the witch...causing me to wail away as if I had attached all my political dreams to Mitt Romney.

Speaking of huge openings: After three performances, in which I toddle my way onto my feet with my tush pushed toward the audience, one of the parents asked me if I had fixed the hole in the seat of my costume yet. Apparently, I had been doing some inadvertant ads for Fruit of the Loom.

I was so traumatized, it took me two days to compose myself enough to compose this.

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