Tales of High School Theater

My Fair Lady

I was only actually in one play during High School, but I loved being around the theater.

I had the role of the Butler. With my tuxedo and long hair, I looked a bit like Tom Petty in the video for Dont Come Around Here No More. I was also in the background of a couple of other minor scenes (Ascott Opening Day and the like).

I had half a dozen lines, most of them no more than a word or two. But I did have one line that was two whole sentences.

BUTLER: [to Higgins, who is busy with some books upstairs] If you please, sir, there’s a dustman downstairs, Alfred P. Doolittle, who wants to see you. He says you have his daughter here.

That line terrified me. I was terrified that I’d forget the words or that I’d bungle my English accent so I practiced it over and over and over. I’d watch the scene from the movie, then try it myself.

In the end, I did well enough to not be memorable which is fine by me.

My favorite part of the play though were the times hanging out at school waiting to rehearse my scenes. My part was so small that I didn’t have much rehearsal time, but the crazed woman who was directing insisted that everyone be there for the entire rehearsal.

So play practice was where I:

Learned the riffle-shuffle.

Beat Clock Solitaire for the first time.

Learned to play Bullshit.

Walked 4 miles to my friend April’s house and 4 miles back. (No one even noticed that I’d left.)

In the end, it was just nice to be around all the people and activity.

Oklahoma

That’s why, when the school did Oklahoma the next year, I was always around. I didn’t have a part, I just wanted to be with my friends and the action.

I tried to make myself useful by running errands backstage which is how I happened to have a front row seat to my friend Chris accidentally punching Amanda Grimes in the face on opening night.

Chris and another guy (another Chris?) were rough housing backstage since they didn’t appear in the play for several scenes. At some point, Chris took a playful swing at the other guy. The other guy ducked just as Amanda came around the corner and she took the hit full-on in the face.

She dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Poor Chris was beside himself. Everyone crowded around, got Amanda up and to a quiet place where she could lay down for a minute. She had the role of Laurey Williams so nothing was happening until she was ready to go on.

Amanda said she was ready to go after about 20 minutes or so. She still looked wobbly but she was a trouper and determined to go on. She took the ice pack off her face and took her place behind the fake door that led onto the stage.

The music swelled, her cue.

She opened the door and started to step out. Then took a quick step back, closed the door, and collapsed again.

I don’t remember how long we delayed the second time but eventually, she made it on stage and killed it.

That girl could sing like nothing else, even after a punch to the face.