Post 46 — An Awkward Stage

LittleMary poster“Musical theatre is the one true art form to come out of American culture in the last hundred years,” Chrissie argued at her friend as they biked furiously across the mushy terrain of Tafuna. A certain speed was needed to be maintained in order to keep the tires from sinking into the sand, and she did not seem to be achieving it.

Her opinion was not quite that well phrased, but it was essentially the gist of what she meant. Liz rolled her eyes and ignored her, for the state of the American musical theater was not high on the list of subjects she wanted to discuss. She was hoping to steer the conversation back to the fact that her dachshund’s poop had lately been in the shape of letters and she wondered if they were trying to communicate with her. But she knew even the turd Ps and Qs weren’t going to be enough to stop her friend’s monologue, because that Broquet family was insufferable since the Island Community Players had started rehearsal for that stupid musical.

January, 1965

Monday night Jean and I attended the meeting of the Island Community Theatre, an organization devoted to bringing culture to the island whether they like it or not. We discussed the forthcoming production of “Little Mary Sunshine”, the musical comedy which is to be presented in March. Thursday night was audition night so Jean went to her art class while I auditioned for one of the comedy roles. I was at a disadvantage though, because they didn’t have anyone who could accompany me in my key, which was flat. I sang “Seventy-six Trombones”, but I didn’t notice anyone swoon, not did the director call a quick conference of his assistants to discuss how they might utilize this brilliant new talent that they discovered on a remote tropical island. Strange, that’s the way it always works out in the movies. I wonder if Robert Preston started this way. Jean didn’t audition because she said she didn’t think she’d fit the role of a young lady from the East Chester Finishing School. Besides, she’s chicken. In case you’re not familiar with this show, it’s a take-off on all operettas and musicals in which the hero is true blue and the heroine is unbelievable chaste and naive. The whole thing is corn from the word go, and we expect to have a lot of fun doing it. If I don’t get the part I want, I’m not going to let it bother me. I’ll just suck my thumb.

Larry

The Island Community Players were mostly composed of the teachers and personnel who worked at the TV studio. Creating your own entertainment was the norm in a place that had little else to offer in the way of a social life, so it was only natural that most of the teachers who were comfortable in front of cameras would also have an affinity for performing on stage. Larry had been cast in the role of Uncle Oscar, a comedic lech who had two songs and several pages of dialogue. Although he was the only Broquet in the show, the whole family had immersed themselves in learning the score and working out blocking that they felt was a just little bit better than whatever the director had told the actors. Chrissie knew all of her father’s lines and was certain she could play the role if required, and even make the audience forget that she was not a middle-aged man. She yearned for the stage and her chance to shine.

Jean had always been a fan of musicals and had tried to see as many as possible back in their native Detroit. The walls of the den had been stapled with Playbill covers from shows she had seen and Broadway soundtracks were prominently featured in the record collection. Shortly before their trip to the island, the girls had been taken to see their very first live stage production, and what an introduction it had turned out to be: Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit. The show cemented for Chrissie what she had always believed; it doesn’t matter how well you sing as long as you do it really loudly. It was a motto she would live by for her entire life.

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3 Comments to “Post 46 — An Awkward Stage”

  1. I always look forward to the most recent post in Chrissie’s Samoan saga! I always greatly admired Larry’s extraordinary talent with words…writing lyrics and his ability to make terrible bi-lingual Samoan/English puns!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you are back with the Samoan letters – I missed them!!! Sally Nelson

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thrilled you are back in action! You got to see EM in Annie get your Gun? Jealous! I was just researching her for my own enjoyment. I always felt her voice was not the most pleasant but u are right about her making it up in volume. Her stage presents was awesome too.

    Liked by 1 person

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