Monday, June 9, 2008

Stage CV

Some characters I’ve played (in no particular order):

Murray the cop in “The Odd Couple.” The New York accent was fun, but we weren’t allowed to actually smoke the cigars on stage. Phooey.

Bob Cratchit in “Scrooge!” Being poor and kind and stoic and forgiving was a stretch for me. Especially the ‘kind’ part.

Groucho Marx in “Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel.” Probably the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. The narrator was played by the esteemed and darkly comic Brendon Etter.

Captain Horster in “An Enemy of the People.” This explains my lifelong distaste for Ibsen.

Gooper in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” During the midweek tune-up rehearsal, the entire cast decided to change just a few words in every line to get the others to laugh and lose the way. It was hilarious except to the director. Everyone (except, again, the director) thought Tennessee Williams should lighten up a little. And, you know, Brick really was a jerk (the character, not the actor).

Some guy (perhaps Charles Lomax) in “Major Barbara.” Probably the worst theatrical experience ever, which is why I’ve all but erased the character’s name from my memory.

Grandpa in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” This was made more enjoyable because we got to sing a couple of songs written just for this show by Marc Robinson, a brilliantly funny lyricist (masquerading by day as a professor of Russian). For these tunes, it was the world premier!Also played two dancing squirrel hand-puppets.

Bosco in “Donata’s Gift.” Playing the bad guy witch-hunter in an operetta based on an Italian folk story – how you gonna top that, eh? Another world musical premier, this time by Christine Kallman.

Joe in “The Shadow Box.” Joe (along with half the other characters) is dying and his wife and child don’t want to believe it. Lots of crying, but some nice lyrical speeches.

Marcus Lycus in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Thus my lifelong love of Phil Silvers.

Alex Loomis in “Take Her, She’s Mine.” I learned about Ouzo from this play. When it was made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart, the plot was kind of the same, but the locale changed from New York and Greece to New York and Paris and Alex Loomis became some suave French dandy (un coquin?) instead of an earnest but adventurous college man.

Nicky Holroyd in "Bell Book and Candle." Another play made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart. In the 1958 Hollywood version, Nicky Holroyd was played by Jack Lemmon. Also in that movie: Ernie Kovacs. Kovacs deserves a post of his own (check back often!).

Sound Man in “Visit to Small Planet.” This could be Gore Vidal’s least-biting satire. I’m surprised it isn’t produced more often. Perhaps it’s because the movie (an adaptation of the stage play which was an adaptation of a novel) starred Jerry Lewis. Makes it hard to take seriously.

Choir Director in “Our Town.” A true chestnut of the American stage.

Mortimer Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Charming, cute, ditsy, elderly murderers. Funny! In the movie version, Mortimer was played by Cary Grant.

Mr. Finnigan in “The Loud Red Patrick.” In about 1953, this unremarkable play had a Broadway run of 93 shows, then slipped into deserved oblivion; that is until my junior high school drama coach inexplicably decided to revive it.

Ed Carmichael in “You Can’t Take it with You.” I could play the xylophone and run a small printing press using hand-set type, skills that proved of no value later in life.


Rob Hardy said...

I was in Our Town, too. My one acting experience in college. I can't remember if my character had a name. Maybe it was just "Friend of George Who Teases Him at His Wedding by Yelling Hey George! Yoweee!" I adore that play. In high school I ran the light board for it, and the sound. Train whistle. Favorite lines:

Emily: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?

Stage Manager: No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some.

Cue Rob's tear ducts.

Jim H. said...

A couple of us in the Our Town cast also pleaded with the director to let us play heliotrope in the garden (arms akimbo, fingers waving like leaves in the gentle breeze), but she rebuffed us.