Friday, July 22, 2011

Curtain Up Anyhow

If you want to do something, you do it anyway, and handle the obstacles as they come.

Benny Goodman
Here are 2 true show biz stories.

If you described show business to an actuary or a systems engineer they would tell you that it doesn't work, it can't work, don't try it. And yet, in spite if the impossibilities, the curtains go up and the shows go on.

I was dong a long running show in New York. The cast was three men and one woman. The actress had a physical problem that sometimes incapacitated her, so she needed to have an understudy. I helped to audition the understudy and had only one rehearsal with her. She attended every performance but never had to play the role.

Until one evening well into the run I was sitting in the dressing room and outside the door I saw her looking at the call board which is where the actors sign in and check for any notes they might need. I asked her if she was playing that night. She turned with a smile and said "Yup."

She was Miss Cool. I had two very difficult scenes with her. She played them beautifully, as if she had been doing them all along, without the slightest slip up. I wanted her to take over the role. But she eventually got a real acting job and left the show. I heard that she went to California and was working out there. She was quickly replaced by another understudy who was fine.

Actors usually take a role and play it until the show closes. In the case of a long running Broadway show they may play for a year or so and then be replaced by a fresh face. If they work on a film their job is done when their last scene is shot.

With opera singers it's very different in many ways. A singer usually develops a catalogue of roles that fit his vocal range and then sings those roles at various opera houses, wherever he can.

There was an opening night of a new production of a popular opera at a New York City opera company. When the conductor arrived he was informed that the tenor was ill and would not be able to sing that night. So the conductor went to the understudy to discuss some parts of the opera, interpretations, tempo, dynamics and so forth. Just before the performance began he was told the original tenor was feeling better and would sing after all. So he went to talk with that tenor about the dynamics and interpretations, and so forth.

When the opera was about to begin the conductor went to the pit, led the orchestra through the rather long overture and when the curtain went up the tenor who stepped on the stage was a total stranger, a third man It was someone the conductor didn't know and had never met. He didn't even know the man's name. And that was the tenor who sang the opening night.

The show can't go on. Show business doesn't work, it won't work, it can't work. But it does.

DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.


It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

10 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.


1 comment:

Vagabonde said...

I have read all your back posts and enjoyed several Vagabondism. You know how to tell a story – I liked the one about the lost girl in the snow looking at the light. I saw your question about same sex marriage – I guess you’d like the answer via email? I’ll think about it and I'll send you my thoughts.