Friday, June 02, 2006

Paper Mill Playhouse

Whenever I think about what to blog about, my mind goes back to high school and the job at the “Paper Mill Playhouse”. Lots of events and adventures influenced my life. I think this contact with real life “show business” left a real interest, if not a passion, for “backstage”. One of our best friends, some one we enjoy being with enormously here at the “institute” is a veteran of a professional singing career in radio, television and recording back in the Golden Age. I know that her stories fascinate me and wonder if it is a throwback to the Playhouse days.

In addition to learning that without makeup show people were real folks and a lot of fun to be around it was by real first opportunity to observe work habits. I learned to respect those players putting their all into a job even when they didn’t feel at 100% or the job had to have become boring. Conversely, I took on a distain for those who cheat.

I am having a reverse Senior Moment this morning. I even remember the name of the guy that used to show up just in time to throw on his make up over a two days’ beard and slur his lines through out at least the first act. It didn't play at all well in "Babes in Toyland". Boy, I disliked him --- while having utmost respect for Dotty Sandlin who did her best to keep the show on track in spite of him.

Somewhere I also learned that a menial job could influence the success or failure of an undertaking. I watched and tried to copy fellow, but more experienced, ushers who could move a whole row of mis-seated patrons to the correct seats without ruffling a feather. (Not easy.) Now understand, the first endeavor was to get them in the right place, but having to know the alphabet backwards and recite it while leading folks down an aisle in the dark sometimes leads to honest mistakes.

At the beginning of the last act all but two of we ushers could leave and go home. When I was one of the two remaining, I used to worry my way through a reread of the emergency manual that covered duties in the event of fire or serious illness. I cheered like mad at the closing curtain, but not for the reason people thought.

Later I might or might not write about the hints I gleaned about flaring hormones among young artists.

1 comment:

Coquette said...

I learned a lot backstage too. I grew up doing plays at the Riverside Theater in Vero Beach :)