Time: January 24, 1992Place: Pleasanton PlayhouseRole: MacDirector: Marc Howard
I have to dance? I guess I should have known the answer to that question before I even auditioned, but hey, I had never been to New York.
My next theatre group that I wanted to perform at was Pleasanton Playhouse. Back in 1991, I had seen My Fair Lady there. I really liked the show but found myself pining to be on the stage looking out instead of in the balcony looking in. This was in part due to the fact that the seats were so cramped that I hated sitting up there. I knew the stage had more room to move around.
42nd Street was my second audition for Pleasanton Playhouse. My first was in the Fall of 1991. I had gone with about 8 friends to audition for Gypsy. I sang ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ with quite a bit of panache. Well, 7 of us got called back and 6 of THEM got cast. I was not too thrilled with that. But I couldn’t dance to save my life. (I’ve always considered that a stupid expression. I mean how on earth is dancing ever going to save someone’s life. I’ve never seen a doctor say to someone, "Frank, you’re dying. There’s no hope….UNLESS, unless you can dance, man, dance. Dance like you’ve never danced before!" This just never seems to happen, at least not in the little world I live in. But just in case, and also because I wanted better parts in shows, I started taking dance classes.)
As cast, I didn’t have exactly a lead part in 42nd street. Truth be told (why would I lie, I’m probably one of the only people who is ever going to read this), my part was "Oscar" the piano player. Now, Oscar didn’t dance, didn’t sing, and had NO lines. In fact, to add insult to injury and a bit more rock salt in the wound, Oscar didn’t even really play the piano. Yep, I was a ‘Piano Mime’. You really can’t get much lower as an actor whilst keeping your pants on. Fortunately, the show did have about 30 something girls cast in it to keep me happy. Technically, they were cast for other reasons, but please, don’t disturb my little world. I like the sky this color.
After a few days into rehearsing, I got my big break. The actor playing "Mac, the stage manager" wasn’t going to do the show. I’ve always guessed he figured the part was too small for him. But hey, I was a piano mime. I could only go up from there. I was offered the part and gladly accepted it. My acceptance speech was rather short. I believe it went something like this, "I’ll take it". The applause was kept to a minimum. The show was a blast. I believe we partied more than any other show I’ve done. People just seemed to love to party. A good friend of mine who shall remain first-nameless had a last name of Bliss. After several parties, her last name was changed to "Blitzed". The parties were quite wild and there were several neat songs sung during the drinking games that I can’t post up here without breaking a few FCC rules. Use your imagination for this one.
Yes, 42nd was the big one. The show was a huge sellout and people came from miles around just to see the dancing (Yeah, I know. The expression ‘Miles Around’ doesn’t mean so much anymore since people have cars and stuff, but still it’s fun to say. I suggest you try and use it at least once before bed tonight). As far as acting was concerned, I don’t think I learned a lot. I just mainly yelled a lot of lines and flirted with a lot of girls. But the show did spark something really wonderful, my new friendship and future romance with Sherry. I think it started the day we were sitting in the auditorium during rehearsal and she kept her feet too close to my chair. I therefore removed her ballet slippers and through them into the balcony. Minutes later, the real stage manager came down (Remember I only played a stage manager on stage, if that’s makes any sort of sense) and he wasn’t at all happy. He threatened to throw me out of the theatre if I threw any more shoes up there. I don’t think he said anything about props or costumes, but since I still had the memories of being a piano mime fresh in my head, I didn’t want to push any buttons. I conceded and never threw stuff into the balcony again. But Sherry and I still laugh about it to this day. I also think the same stage manager still works there today as well — guarding and watching, watching and guarding. Someday, yes, someday, I’ll throw another shoe!
I usually don’t like to do the same show a second time but it was a different theatre group and I figured for a better part. I decided ‘why not?’