Monday, November 15, 2010

Say "Uncle!"


This production may prompt audience curiosity about how well the planned Daniel Radcliffe-John Laroquette version will do on Broadway in early 2011. It may be hard to top how well all of the separate components of the Goodspeed production flow satisfyingly together. ~Hartford Arts Examiner

The joys of live performance are sometimes contradictory. Stage actors are, by nature, creatures of habit; we love the athletic repetition of our performances, and the attendant routines of signing in, warming up, donning our disguises--the reassuring daily motions of the working performer. However, one of the realities of theatre is that it is in many ways spontaneous, and indeed, works best when there is sense of danger, of unpredictability. And, no matter how strong an actor's technique or his level of concentration on stage, sometimes something happens to just, well, crack him up. The Brits call this "corpsing" because in the moment those inappropriate giggles arise, one's character dies and the actor beneath is exposed. Last week, regrettably, a mass expiration occurred on the Goodspeed stage, during the rousing 11th hour number, "The Brotherhood of Man." It all began so simply--a small slip of the tongue by our esteemed "president", Ronn Carroll as J. B. Biggley. Brian Sears, as Finch, setting up the number, says, "We're all brothers." Ronn is supposed to glare at Bud Frump and say, "Some of us are uncles." On this night, he mistakenly said, "Some of us are nephews." I know it seems so innocent, so banal, but it took Brian and the rest of us by surprise; by the time Brian had to turn and sing to the group of us executives, a red faced grin had erupted on his face. The rest was a chain reaction--shoulders began to shake, serious expressions gave way to struggling grimaces unsuccessfully masking open hilarity. The first part of the song was broken up by a bunch of performers trying to regain their composure while a mystified and bemused audience watched. Torture!! And of course we were all heartily ashamed of ourselves while acknowledging that it was indeed quite funny and we are human, after all. The next night, when we returned to the same spot in the show, I know more than one of us was gripping his feet, holding his breath until the moment passed without a giggle.

Thanksgiving approaches, as does the conclusion of our run. Dusk falls early now; the nights are cold and dark. Pumpkins and mums are giving way to yule logs and twinkle lights. I watched all the seasons change here at Goodspeed this year: I arrived to start "Annie Get Your Gun" in the frigid cold of March and capered through the Wild West through spring and summer, then returned during the last dog days of that season to take up my position at World Wide Wickets through a blazing New England fall. With the coming of the holidays, I can only feel gratitude that in these uncertain times, I have been gainfully employed as an actor at one of our finest theatres for virtually an entire theatrical season. What a gift. I plan to savor these last performances, even as my eyes turn inevitably to the horizon and the search for that next gig.

No comments:

Post a Comment