williamallenpepper

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MY LIFE IN LIVE THEATRE

That’s “theatre” with the last “re” and “e” reversed from the type of “theater” where you buy milk duds and sneak into dirty and/or cheesy flick instead of the Important Critique on the Human Condition or Rom-Com you bought a ticket for.

I enjoy live theatre. Plays and musicals both. I always have.  When I was about six or seven, I remember going with my parents to a dinner theatre production of “Camelot”. This was the seventies (Yes, I’m old. Let’s move on.) and wore my pale-green, three-piece suit and brown-striped tie. My family sat in a booth in the back so that I could sit up on the back of the booth to be able to see better. By the time you have dinner (with hot fudge brownie sundaes and several Roy Rogers’s to drink – the boy equivalent of a Shirley Temple), and sit through a two act play with intermission, it gets pretty late for a young boy, so I’m sure I fell asleep at some point. But before that, I vividly remember sitting in the dark, struck by what was going up on the stage.

In fifth grade, my buddy Todd begged me to audition with him for the school musical. It was called “Runaway Snowman” or something. I went because when you’re ten, your buddy begging you to do something is about all the motivation you need. I really don’t remember the audition, but I remember the results. Todd got the lead in the show, Freddy Fast-talk. I got…to be one of the prop guys. My primary responsibility during the production was to crouch behind the set until a certain cue in the show when I would creep out to upstage left and turn around a fake evergreen which was flocked with white on the other side to signify that now winter had come.

I didn’t do any more theatre until I was about thirty. No particular reason. Life just went in different directions. My whole childhood and teen-agedom, my family made annual and semi-annual trips to the dinner theatre, but I didn’t get active in theatre until a lot later.

I got the bug to get on stage when “Ten Little Indians” went up at the community theatre in the town I was living in at the time. That’s my favorite Agatha Christie novel (nerd, much?), so I couldn’t resist going after a small part. I was a bit player, but, indirectly, that play did lead me to meeting my wife, so that was good. I went on to do a dozen or fourteen more plays with that community theatre and another local theatre company. The last play I did in that town even garnered me a “best supporting actor” trophy at the community theatre awards that year. (Suck on that, Broadway!)

A few years ago, I returned to theatre briefly with a nice part in the well-known ensemble piece “Twelve Angry Men”. It was, hands down, the most fun I’ve had on stage or behind the scenes. I expect someday to get on stage again – maybe when the kids are older; I’m way too tired right now – but even if I don’t, if “Twelve Angry Men” is my last acting effort, I’ll be content.

Live theatre is at the front of my mind, center stage if you like, a lot lately, for reasons I’ll get to in coming posts. For now, just felt like reminiscing.

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