Overdressed

The final rehearsal ended and it was our ‘dress’ rehearsal. After weeks of defining and refining, we could at last do our play from start to finish. Wardrobe had tailored our costumes and since I played two roles, with completely different costumes from head-to-foot, I considered the time between scenes and felt there was adequate time to play the Mayor, return to my dressing room, change into the Senator, hat, boots and all, and be at my entrance for my next scene. Mayor Poindexter was portly with horn-rim glasses, brown suit and shoes with white sox. (at that time I was not portly so I was provided with a tee-shirt with a ‘pillow’ sewn in (I could play the Mayor now, without the ‘belly shirt’,donchaknow). Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to do all that changing, so I could only shed the belly shirt, change shirts, put on boots, grab my hat and play the Senator in the same suit as the Mayor. That didn’t go over well, at all. Director Peter Masterson was kind enough to suggest that I ‘overdress’ by wearing the Senator’s shirt, tie and pants under the Mayor’s clothes. All I had to do then was remove the brown coat, horn-rim glasses, shirt and tie, pants and shoes, then put on the Senator’s (pre-tied) tie, boots, hat and coat. I made my entrance without a problem. So simple, yet my lack of experience of playing two roles limited my ability. The only other ‘bad’ moment was when I failed to have a ‘check’ for payment to Miss Mona in my breast pocket as I “hosted” the Aggie football team to a night at the ‘Ranch’. I usually put one in after each show, but the first time our costumes were dry cleaned, I forgot until standing on the stage and hearing, “Where’s my check, J. T.?”. I reached and there wasn’t a check. Much to my relief, June Terry went along when I said,”Oh, Heck, Miss Mona I’ll send one right away, you know I’m good for it.” That was the only “note” I ever received during our run of over 900 shows, three years and twenty-six cities. Of all those performances, I was fortunate to miss only four. It only takes once for a mistake to be made on stage to get one’s attention. As we continued the run, it was easy to fall into the rut of simply repeating automatically. Scenes were developed by ‘blocking’ and that helped keep us in line. Movement is hard to do when ‘asleep’, so scenes are ‘blocked’ by speaking lines from different places or positions on the stage. If that isn’t followed it will lead to ruination and will occur very seldom in professional theater. We became a ‘family’ over the years and it was sad when the curtain fell that last night at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. We never wished to do the ‘road show’ thing again. I had always wanted to be part of a ‘hit’ professional production and that did it for me. We’ve lost contact with the scores of ‘family’ from that time, but it was good to have known them and to have experienced ‘Ensemble’ as an actor. I had experienced it many times from the Director’s Chair, but it was good to have been there. In a small way, we experienced ‘creation’ by bringing words from a printed page to life. I suppose GOD was thrilled with the results in Eden until his actors wandered ‘off script’. Isn’t it good that HE provided a way for all of us to be absolved for our own ‘wandering’? That’s what I get from my box of Chocolates on that. For that I say, AMEN!

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