The Wizard of Oz
Time: July 21, 2000Place: Pleasanton PlayhouseRole: josephDirector: Mark Cornfield
Perfect! A part for a character actor that flops around the stage for 2 hours. Here’s something I could do. I was more than ready for this part.
Auditions went well. Callbacks went better. And the part was cast in my favor. I was headed down that yellow brick road. Well, the road ended up being just plain black since the stage floor wasn’t painted, but the lighting was yellow. So maybe we could call it the yellow-lit road.
Follow the yellow lit road! Follow the yellow lit road!
Follow follow follow follow
Follow the yellow lit road!
Thus, my experience in Oz. Overall, a great show. But not without things to talk about. I had my praises and complaints. Still, I was happy to be cast. Our cast was strong and the witch was strikingly perfect. She captured the role magnificently and I was impressed with her characterization.
Our vocal director was a wee bit stern and scolded us for not being more off book during one music rehearsal. Trouble is…it was only our second rehearsal. She was ancy, to say the least. No matter. The music and lines were easy.
We rehearsed all Summer long. The days were warm and we sweated often. During this time, I also had my wisdom teeth removed. Yet, I was determined not to miss any rehearsals on account of that small act of surgery. But they cancelled the rehearsal that evening. I think they knew I would have shown up–despite blood oozing from my still open wounds.
We were well prepared for opening. Though, I was insistant on having more special effects. The sets were adequate, but not as fancy as I would have liked them to be. My offer to lend a fog machine was turned down, so the witch melted rather dryly. We used a disco ball instead of having snow flakes fall during the witch’s sleeping spell. I had to cry out "Look! It’s snowing!" But I really wanted to cry out "Look! Disco lives forever!"
My scarecrow roost was going to consist of a pole and nothing more. Well, this just wouldn’t do. So I enlisted the help of other cast members and built my own cornfield. It was done with 16 wooden doles, yards of green fabric, a corn leaf template, fake corncobs, green florist tape, many bags of thin flower wire, several glue guns, two sets of 2x4s, a rolling platform, a wooden box, a bunch of fake hay, and a lot of time and energy. But it worked. The cornfield turned out great and I felt it added much to the scene.
Being the Scarecrow meant extra sweating as well. My costume was hot and all that flopping around brought small rivers of sweat down my face. Fortunately, my eyes never got too much salt water in them. My hat sort of mopped up some of the perspiration. Yet, by the end of the show, I was soaked each night and doubly soaked during Sunday matinees.
We also had a cool video projector and a screen for the Wizard’s antics. I made the cycling video footage and it even contained roaring fire. Though a couple of pickier people noticed the cycle in the flames. I could have fixed that. Probably should have, but oh, so little time. It functioned smoothly for most of the shows. But there were a few nights when it displayed "No Video Sync" in huge letters for the audience to see. Embarassing? Quite. But nothing compared to…the big RIP!
It happened on the last weekend.
During Friday night’s show, I was flopping around as usual and RIP! My pants split right down the crotch. Yikes! I heard and felt it happen. There wasn’t much I could do so I simply tried to keep my legs close together for the rest of the scene…and the next scene…and the scene after that.
Alas, I didn’t have many offstage breaks as the Scarecrow, but finally one came. I ran downstairs and yelled for help. Misty came over and assisted. Some safety pins got my split seam back together, and I ran upstair for my next break. This all happened in under 2 minutes. During another small break, I got a few more repairs done, but I was highly nervous for the rest of the show. Even my Jitterbug number was held back to keep things from splitting open again. I made new Scarecrow pants for the remaining shows.
It was a great experience and not one I’ll soon forget. I did learn some important things. First and foremost…
If the audience is giggling during and odd time, check your zipper. It’s usually the number one cause. This led to my number one rule before going back out onstage after a fast costume change: MAKE SURE ZIPPER IS UP!
And as a backup for that; always have a few witty lines of improv ready just in case you miss it one fine night.