Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Theater

In 1967 I was a senior in high school. Miss Center, our select choir pianist, was also music director for the local village community players who were planning a production of The Music Man for the spring of '68. A professional director was hired, scripts & scores ordered, members of the Cleveland orchestra were going to provide extra musicians, and try outs were scheduled for just after Thanksgiving. Mrs. Center asked if choir members would consider trying out for parts and as extras. I was psyched but when I asked my parents, they said no. I was already involved in too many other extra curricular activities. Dash it all.

A few days later Mrs. Center asked if I'd see her after choir practice. Would I please consider being an extra in the play as part of the chorus. "You have excellent projection in your voice dear and can be heard throughout the auditorium." Translation, you have a big, loud mouth! Armed with a personal invitation, I again approached my parents. Since the chorus didn't have as many rehearsals, at least in the beginning, they gave me permission. (Hurray!!!)

At the first chorus rehearsal, I was assigned a few solo lines in various songs. Several in "Wells Fargo Wagon" ... "OR A DOUBLE BOILER!" was one of them. Remember, I can be heard in the back row without a mike. The music learned, we started practicing with the cast. One night the actress for the Zaneeta Shinn character didn't show up. She's the mayor's oldest daughter, doncha know? "Connie Jane would you mind reading the lines for Zaneeta?", the director asked. I had seen the movie version of the play and thought this character quite a hoot. I agreed and when I came to the part where she says, "YE GODS!" I really let them have it. Everyone laughed and so I preformed it the same way every time and really got into the characters attitude.

Once again, Mrs. Center asked me to stay after. "The director has asked me to approach you and offer you the part of Zaneeta Shinn. We thought you were fabulous and would love to see you take it on." My mind raced... are you shitting me?... OMG! ...Flattered... YA THINK? I practiced the spiel for my parents all the way home. PLEEEEEESE, I begged. Cheerleading is over, I'll keep up with my homework... HONEST! They finally got tired of the pleading and gave their consent.

It was a lot of work and many hours of rehearsals but well worth it. I knew every line, every dance step, every song, every stage blocking, every move the scenery made, every lighting affect. I learned so very much and loved every moment of it. All of our performances were sold out and a big success. We were asked to extend our run but the lead actors didn't want to. Go out while you're on top I guess. It was a wonderful experience and I wish I had done more of it.

This photo I scanned from our yearbook, Mrs. Center giving me some acting pointers. Sometimes it pays to have a big, loud mouth.


At 3:26 AM, Blogger alan said...

Beauty and a voice to go with it...the whole package! Wonder what would have happened if you had gone on with it...(and yes, I hate wondering that about things in my own life, too)

I got to be in the "River City Boys Band" when our high school did Music Man. I was 10, in the 6th grade, and it was quite a treat. Somewhere I still have the knickers my Mom made for!

Great photo; I'm glad you have it for the memories!


At 8:42 AM, Blogger RED QUILT MAKER said...

Pick a little, talk a little.


Talk a whole lot more.

This was FAB!

I'll be your White Knight.


At 9:52 AM, Blogger sttropezbutler said...

CJ..that was brill as are you!


At 6:05 PM, Blogger Blogzie said...

What a wonderful story.

You look so intent, as if you are absorbing all of her knowledge.

I just knew you were a star!


At 7:11 PM, Blogger dondon009 said...

A star was born.... well, almost!

I loved this post. It all sounded like such fun and the picture is wonderful.... you serious little actress, you!

Break a leg! OOPS, I think I was supposed to say that before the play!



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