Oh God! Body Grease! Murder in the Magnolias Act Six

Oh God! Body Grease! Murder in the Magnolias Act Six
             I’m very sad that it is over. I’m very glad that it is over.
           The final performance on March 2, 2014 was canceled due to this season’s monthly snowpocalypse. We ended up getting less than an inch of ice, but I’m glad they canceled – it was not worth taking the chance in case the weather was worse. It was only the second time a production by the Sparta Community Chorus was canceled. The other time was the December 2013’s Christmas production during the first major snow of the season. Only two cancellations ever; and both during the same period.
            The director and I joked about the play being “cursed”! It was canceled en toto back in 1981 and now again! It was the culmination of curses throughout – my forgetting my shoes on the first Saturday performance; the actress playing Lorraine forgetting her shoes on the second Saturday (forcing both of us to hie to the Wal-Mart across the street for shoes. I only found one pair large enough for me and it was still half-a-size too small. They had men’s shoes there size seven. Seven. The WIDTH of my foot is wider than that. Lorraine found lots of shoes for 1/3rd the price I paid…).
            The actor playing Pete Bogg cut his finger on a glass figurine that shattered on the floor (the shattering was part of the play, the cut finger was not). It wasn’t a bad cut and a Band-Aid and some anti-septic took care of it, but at the time he bled quite a bit! Blood was dripping on him, the furniture and the gold coins his character discovered.
            It was always freezing cold backstage.
            Lines were also a problem. There were so many similar lines and even repeated lines throughout the play. My characters used the words “rapscallion” twice. Two separate characters repeated “over here, dear” to Amanda and “are you trying to be amusing” to Pete Bogg. The sheriff had two similar lines when he entered a scene and said the buried treasure was separately a story for children and a myth. Listening backstage, I was unsure which line went where. Blanche had to watch her finances and a few lines later had to watch her pennies. It was confusing and you couldn’t blame anyone for switching lines. During the first weekend, we skipped over the lines about state authorities doing some drainage work. My response was “to dig or not to dig, that is the question”. The lines were lost that first weekend, but said during the second weekend’s performances.
            Some of the cast apologized for missing their lines that first weekend. The rest of us assured them it was fine – we worked around it and ad-libbed our way back to the script. The performances were marvelous! The audience loved them!
            The hoop skirts were a hassle at first – it was hard for any of us to tie it firmly enough to prevent it from falling off.
            There was hardly enough time for me to change from the Colonel to Thornbird between acts without missing my cue. Fortunately the rest of the cast helped me change, put on my spats, touch up my moustache and beard and put up my first costume so that, during the performances, I had plenty of time.
            The stage and auditorium is haunted by a ghost or gremlin, so I was told. It would flicker lights and otherwise disrupt the show. I only saw one example of this: while discussing the Colonel’s portrait that hung over the mantel, it fell with a crash and cracked the frame as we watched it. Other than that, no ghost or gremlin. I once showed up for rehearsal very early. Some patrons were in the auditorium preparing for a children’s show in March and let me in as they left. I spent 20 minutes in the auditorium waiting for other cast members. If there was a ghost, I would have been a tempting target that evening. Nothing. In fact, it was nice to relax and listen to some music on my ipad.
            A rehearsal was cancelled due to bad weather. It wasn’t until the week of opening night that we had rehearsals with the entire cast present.
            One cast member left the show in the first week and was replaced quickly. His replacement was one of the people I auditioned for.
            None of these were long-term problems and all were resolved quickly. If these were curses I could live with them!
            In fact the play could not have gone better. The audiences for each of the five performances were wonderful and receptive. Each audience laughed at different parts of the show, it seemed. There were more children in the audience that first Friday and Saturday night and their laughter was louder than the others. They also laughed at the more silly/slapstick parts. We had an older audience the final Friday and Saturday and they laughed less at the modern references to “twerking” and “Dancing with the Stars”.
            I had to ask the director if the last Friday audience was laughing. They sounded dead from the stage, but she assured me they were laughing.
            And laughing at all the right places.
            Lines we thought were funny barely got a titter. Lines we thought weren’t all that funny got howls from the crowd. Blanche’s line “Gone with the first wind that …” the rest of the line was lost to the laughter. Every time. Blanche’s deliver was spot-on.
            My favorite line from the whole play, also a Blanche line, was “I’m a friend to all animals. I want to be your friend, Stanley,” got no reaction from the crowd. None. Haha.
            At intermission of the last performance we had the cast thank-yous. I did not know what that was and thought it was something we did onstage to the audience. But we gathered backstage to thank the director, the assistant director, the light and sound people, and each other. The director Stephanie told the story of why the play was never done back in 1981 and we all gave our appreciation to each other for a wonderful show.
            I posted this on Facebook on Sunday March 2nd. I posted it about two in the afternoon – the time we were to begin what would have been the final show:
I’m very sad it’s over; I’m very glad it’s over. I auditioned more or less on a whim and, to be frank, if Stephanie had not directed I probably wouldn’t have. I am so glad and grateful you took a chance and allowed me to play not one, but two roles on someone whose only real experience was during the last days of the Carter Administration. The cast and crew were at all times friendly, helpful and kind to me and made me feel quite welcome! It encourages me to try out again in future productions! Thank you to all my new friends and have a wonderful rest of the year! Thank you for wonderful new memories!
            And it is all true! It was a wonderful two months ending in a fun and entertaining time for us and our audience.
            Oh, and the title to this blog? The Voodoo Woman’s opening line for each appearance is an invocation of the Voodoo male fertility god Ogoun Bodagris. In 1981 that was transliterated to “Oh God, Body Grease”. I knew it was gnawing at you!
Copyright 2014 Michael G Curry









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