Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The White House or The Royal Regional Community Theater goes to Broadway
It feels like what happened is that someone took a community theater show produced by amateur actors and a director who has a full time job as an office manager, and producers who have supported the wine and cheese art gallery show in downtown Clearwater, and you said to all of these people, You open on Broadway in two weeks! And the cast is so excited and believe in themselves and think it can't really be that hard to create a Broadway show, they've all learned lines before, they know about the prop room and they will get a set built because they're going to hire the lead character's uncle Frank who has a workshop in his garage. And the costumes...Well, we'll have Tim's teenage son sketch up the costumes, he's a little weird, a little emo, but he's great at sketching and so then they sit down to look at what Tim's son has brought in on sheets of real drawing paper (the kid's name is Sam but he goes by "Tink") and the drawings are okay, I mean, the forms are recognizable as human. He has a little trouble with the hands. They sort of dangle at the end of the arms like puffer fish, and he seems to have a thing for capes, but that's fine, we can work with this plan, and then one of the lower members of the cast (a mere walk on with no lines) raises her hand and goes, "So, like, who's going to like, make the costumes?"
The room goes silent, and all you can hear is the director's little Chihuahua, Cher, licking herself.
They're gathered in the director's living room. It's a nice sort of room, with a puffy couch from Raymour and Flannigan's with a built in chaise lounge, and the director's wife has made mini quesadillas in the microwave and everybody brought chips and dip and soda, and the best thing about the room is pictures from the previous shows hanging on the wall above the faux fireplace mantel. The photos are all professionally mounted in frames from Michael's Arts & Crafts store, look, there's All My Sons; the matinees were always sold out for that one, and remember Carousel, or maybe best not to bring up Carousel, because that was the first musical they attempted and they had some trouble getting the orchestra involved, and so it ended up being accompanied by these kids who had a band, not the most dedicated group, so forget about Carousel, that was a rush job and forced on them by the arts council. Hey, there's Noises Off, holy cow, remember how everybody was so impressed by the British accents they did? And sometimes, a fun thing to do is to go into TGIFriday's and pretend you're from England and order the buffalo chicken wings in the accent, adding, By jove! at the end. The waitresses totally fall for it every time.
Fine, maybe they haven't thought through every detail, but what does it matter, anybody can put on a play, in fact, it's best if you don't have all these hoity-toity Shakespearean types who've studied at like Julliard or Oxford or wherever, because they always think they're so great, and complicate everything by wanting rehearsals ad nauseum or to follow the script. They have no imagination and are stuck in this old way of putting on a show, I mean, how hard can it be?
Then opening night rolls around and the curtain is about to go up and half of the actors are missing because someone (no one is naming names, but possibly Misty, the stage manager) forgot to email the time to show up. The audience waits, rustling in their seats, hands empty of programs because who the fuck was supposed to get the programs? Isn't anybody in charge of those little booklet things they have at the shows, where the bios are listed and there's a cover of the Phantom and people keep them as souvenirs for ten years before throwing them out? Playball or whatever it's called.
Take your marks, the lights are going down, except that no one knows how to turn down the lights or how to turn up the lights and the set isn't finished and the actors have run scared due to lack of preparation and the director has a sudden, stabbing flash of fear in his stomach that they may close after just one night.