When this ad first appeared a couple years ago, we of the cast were highly amused by the way the ever-mischievous Marco T. had gotten away with utilizing The Shocker in his photo. I can assure you that no one in TnT management knew what that meant. They probably still don’t know, since they try to market the show as very family-friendly.
None of the people seen in this ad are still with the show, though they have been replaced with some other fun folks. Still, if anyone were tempted to see it based on wanting to see a person in the photo perform, they would be disappointed. Of course, this wasn’t my first lesson in not believing what I see in the papers…
When I was living in Detroit, I did a great many shows with the now-defunct Greenfield Village Theatre Company, who performed their shows in an old proscenium theater within the walls of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Even though it was a professional company barely outside the city limits of Detroit, the major Detroit papers would almost never review their shows. This left the Dearborn Press & Guide as the major reviewer of Greenfield Village shows. My first encounter with the Press & Guide came about in an odd way.
It was opening night of You Can’t Take It With You. The show had just ended, the big curtain had closed, and I was running around putting away my props. As I glanced across from the wings, I saw a little pale man with dark curly hair and a black mustache part the curtains and walk onto the set. He strode upstage and immediately began examining the American flag we had standing on a pole as part of our set dressing. Since I was the only person witnessing this, I decided to deal with it myself.
“Excuse me,” I began, “but we don’t allow audience members onto the stage.”
The man smiled slightly, recognizing my ignorance. He thrust out his hand to shake my hand and said quickly, “Richard Marsh, Press and Guide” – as if that meant something to me; as if that explained everything. It did not, and I tactfully explained to him that we really couldn’t make exceptions, so he departed.
I’m happy to report that he gave the show a decent review, though he said little about my performance, either for good or for ill. He did, however, have a criticism of the set. He complained that even though the show was set in the 1930s, we were using a 50-star flag on the set. He failed to mention how he knew this since, after all, the flag was on a vertical stand with only a bit of the fabric showing. You see, when I approached him that night, he had stretched out the flag and was counting the stars! Here’s a polite version of how reading his review made me feel: Sheeeesh!
I should probably cut Mr. Marsh some slack. First of all, he passed away several years ago, so he’s not here to defend himself. Second, a couple years after the above incident, he bestowed upon me the only acting award I’ve won to date. Every year for over a decade, Marsh would host the PAGE (Press And Guide Entertainment) Awards. I was a winner for (are you ready?) Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for my performance as Sir Dandiprat Bombas in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I had been notified of my nomination a few weeks earlier, but I was not in attendance at the awards ceremony. I had chosen that night to drive down to Toledo with a couple of friends to take in a Mud Hens minor league baseball game, so I was nowhere to be found amid the pomp and glory when my name was called.
I did attend the PAGE Awards the following year, since I’d been nominated for Best Actor in a Drama, though I didn’t win. As I was leaving the theater, someone came running up to me with an envelope in their hand. After verifying that I was the person they thought I was, they gave me the envelope, which contained my actual award plaque from the previous year, and which I’d completely forgotten about. It’s still in a box somewhere, though I’ve never displayed it – I would hate to have it fade from too much exposure to the light!
My bottom line is this – it was a perfect summer evening; a lovely night to be in Toledo watching a baseball game. There was no place I’d rather have been!