The road to a Tony award is fraught with danger and excitement.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend Dottie: The Sister Lives On at the Salt Lake Acting Company. What a spectacular show and a triumph for Sister Dottie. I cried until I resembled a raccoon from my mascara running. I laughed until the spandex in my girdle burst and unfortunately took out the back row. This fantastic theatrical experience took me down memory lane, to a simpler time, during the Paleozoic Era, before I donned my first tiara and I was a young high school student in Idaho. I came in from the potato fields to participate in the gay-straight alliance of the day: the drama club.
Of course, being in rural Idaho, my high school was very small (my graduating class consisted of 32 students) and our auditorium housed a small stage, located behind the basket in the gymnasium. As you can imagine, the audition process was not very difficult, consisting only of being able to read the lines without sounding like a sheep. Amazingly, even with such low standards, some poor souls didn’t make the cut. It really makes you wonder about their genealogy, doesn’t it? Our budget was so small that the scenery was mostly made from painting farm implements and covering milk cans with paper-mâché.
One of the crowning achievements of my high school acting career was being cast as the lovable, blanket-toting know-it-all, Linus Van Pelt, in the musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. I found great comfort in carrying the blanket with me and discovering how many ways I could use the blanket to disguise myself. It even made a great skirt!
After weeks of rehearsal, and tens of dollars spent in costuming and set decoration, we were ready. It was the opening night of a two-night run, and magic was in the air. Our “Snoopy” was cute and energetic, and our “Charlie Brown” was as sad and depressing as he should be. The songs were even in tune because the school had splurged to have the piano tuned just for the occasion.
About halfway through the play, there was a scene where Lucy and Linus were having an argument and Lucy pushed me. I was supposed to fall to the floor, sit up and make a face at her and then pretend to watch TV while she made a lengthy speech to the audience. I guess Lucy’s adrenalin was really pumping because she pushed me so hard that I flew halfway across the stage and fell, hitting my head on the solid wooden floor so hard that it bounced up a good four inches and then hit again, leaving me semi-unconscious. Witnesses later told me that my head hitting the floor made a very loud thunk that was clearly heard in the back row. The entire audience gasped in horror.
There I was lying unresponsive on the stage floor. (Usually, when I’m lying unresponsive somewhere, it’s because I’ve just finished having mind-blowing sex. However, to my continuing consternation, even to this day, my partner still usually gasps in horror.) Back to our story. Luckily, the blanket landed on my down-stage side, thus shielding my face from the audience. To her credit, Lucy did not break character. She simply looked down at me, sighed a very audible harrumph, and took a giant step over my lifeless body, proceeding to the far side of the stage to deliver her lengthy speech. I continued to lay unmoving while Lucy droned on.
When Lucy was about halfway through her speech, I started to regain my senses, remembering that I was on stage and supposed to be sitting up pretending to watch TV. I sat up, holding the blanket so that it hid my face from the audience. I looked off stage. The director was visibly distressed, pulling her hair. She mouthed the words “are you OK?” to me. I nodded yes, and thus the scene continued. Later friends in the audience told me that we fooled no one.
By the time the curtain closed on that scene, and I had made my way backstage, the football coach – the nearest thing the town had to an EMT and on whom I had a major secret crush – had come backstage to investigate. Coach Dreamboat sat facing me, our knees inadvertently touching. My heart began pounding with desire. He gently placed his hands on either side of my face and gazed, with strikingly blue eyes, deeply into mine, looking for dilated pupils. I felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath. He gingerly ran his fingers through my hair feeling for bumps. I nearly swooned. I almost couldn’t remember that Richard Nixon was president of the United States when Coach Adonis asked me. He announced that I probably had a mild concussion but could continue with the play. So despite a rising goose egg the size of a five-hundred-carat diamond ring and a headache that would make any New Year’s hangover pale in comparison, I was thrilled beyond measure that the coach had tenderly touched me.
The show must go on! If it means more attention like this from coach dreamboat, I will break my leg!
Like always these events leave us with several eternal questions:
1. Is the discovery of “sheep people” the reason the church stresses genealogy so much?
2. Is the inclusion of “sheep people” the reason the church’s followers are so loyal?
3. Could one of my beehive wigs have cushioned my head enough to have prevented me from blacking out?
4. Was getting a concussion worth the price to get the coach’s attention?