We didn't get a formal cast picture with all of us in costume, which I'm kind of pissed about. I mean, we got ourselves all rigged up in freakin' BLACK TIE for this thing and nobody took a cast photo. So, shots from the green room and ones taken during the performance will have to suffice.
So, the play was staged at the Smith Mountain Lake 4H center (Head, Hearts, Hands, Health); which is more of a compound out near Smith Mountain Lake. It was way bigger than I was expecting and you literally have to go through the middle (or backside) of nowhere to get it.
At first, I thought...oh, cool...I won't even need to study my lines...they'll simply sink in over that length of time...I'll learn them by osmosis. Yeah...ahhh, no...that's not what happened. Actually, that extraordinary amount of time allowed me to keep putting off actually learning them, so I had to cram in the last few weeks. I got into a certain amount of "trouble" for that. But I'm not going to go into the negative aspects of those six months: except to say that pretty much the entire cast, including myself, came down with Covid, which didn't help matters. Oh and my OCD flared up to pre-Zoloft levels (more on that later).
As I mentioned, the actual set was in the basement of the aforementioned couple. It was then disassembled and put back together at the 4H center. Here it is:
Gary Noesner as Officer Welch
Shirley Sorrentino as Officer Pudney
Pam Gabriel as Cassie Cooper
Scott Sayre as Glenn Cooper
Wendy Neuman as Chris Gorman
Me as Ken Gorman
Mike Dittrich as Lenny Ganz
Sue Halloran as Claire Ganz
Phil Servidea as Ernie Cusack
Marion Wetcher as Cookie Cusack
Interesting cast note: Gary Noesner is something of a celebrity. He was one of the FBI negotiators at Waco and he wrote a book about his career:
So, they always take "head shots" at most community playhouses and put them out in the lobby...often without identifying names; which seems kind of pointless. And nobody, but nobody knows how to take a good head shot of me. I don't know if it's the photographers or if it's me or if I have difficult to light face...I don't know. I think I'm a fairly good looking person. My head is rather shaped like a lozenge; or an elongated watermelon. I am able to take pretty good selfies of moi-self (which frankly is getting harder and harder...I'm about to turn 57). When I was a kid, I didn't photograph all that well; often appearing goofy and gangly, particularly as a teen-ager. When I got into my mid-twenties all the way through my mid forties I couldn't take a bad picture, more or less. Nowadays, it seems, all I can do is take a bad picture. Yes, I'll admit I'm a bit vain; but I am an actor. And a human being. I want to look good for as long as I can. But I totally get why a lot of celebrities demand "picture approval" on various and sundry projects.
So, our opening night was by far the best of the three. We had about 140 people and they laughed throughout the show, quite heartily; and a couple of times for a really long time. In fact, it was the most laughter I've experienced, thus far, in my years of doing this. It was a Friday night and there was wine on hand and they loved it. Saturday night was about a hundred or so people, maybe more. They were kind of a "tough crowd," as the saying goes. Getting the laughs was like pulling teeth; but by Act 2 they were primed and yukking it up. The Sunday matinee was SOLD OUT. 150 people. 150 people who had probably just come from church, skewed on the octogenarian side and were definitely not lubricated with potent potables. We had to really work to get them to come around...but we did. On Saturday, demure as they were, they gave us a standing ovation. Friday too. The Sunday folks did not. Standing ovations are not a given...so we had that going for us.
So, all that rehearsal for only three shows. Usually, there's at least two weekends for any community theater production. And you usually get a review in the local papers. I cannot supply that here. I'm pretty certain we would've received a "good review." Not that getting a good review is what substantiates whether or not you actually put on a good show. I was in a production of "Hedda Gabler" that devolved into a comedy. If it had been reviewed, I'm sure the critic would've trashed it. But it got a standing ovation. Oftentimes, as we know, critics and audiences don't react to things in the same way. We had a lot of screwed up sound cues: late, wrong, etc. But it somehow made things funnier, I thought.
Meanwhile, back in the green room...
There are plans to create an Arts Center in a massive building that was formerly a furniture store. So, who knows?
So, in wrapping up this wrap up...
I mentioned that I was going through a pretty bad OCD flare-up in the final days of rehearsal and into the performances. Let me give you a little insight into that particular challenge. So for me, acting is a process of figuring out my character and what they want in the context of the play. Not so much who they are, but how do they act? Because in real life, we only see that in other people. What they do and how they behave.
I learn the lines to the point (hopefully) where they are second nature. You open your mouth and the words come out. The trick is making the words, which you've said dozens of time, come out as though you're just saying them for the very first time. While also simultaneously trying to "forget" what you're going to say; that is: to not anticipate any of your dialogue coming up. It's kind of like typing, when your fingers are flying over the keyboard and you're not even conscious of it. Or like letting go and letting the Force be with you.
So, that is hard enough. But if you're experiencing OCD intrusive thoughts while your attempting to think and simultaneously not think; you've got to control the third set of thoughts at the same time. And deal with panic. And then just the simple stress of being in front of an audience, wanting to please and entertain them. People think acting is easy; or more precisely, they tend to dismiss acting as somehow frivolous. It's not. It's hard. I would say that kind of intense concentration is as exhausting as any marathon. It makes me tired.
Yes, acting is hard. And comedy is harder.
Here is another favorite acting photo of mine. My husband took it. He takes very good pictures of me. This is from the disastrously sublime production of "Hedda Gabler."
I'm sorry; but there is no way to utter the word "fjord" unless you are from Oslo.