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Vinnie

Heading for Daylight

Posted on 2006.04.02 at 03:28
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Time - Alan Parsons Project
As I learned mere hours ago, the switch to daylight savings time is upon us. This knowledge is particularly vital for those of us with performances on Sunday. Actors typically have a call time one hour before curtain, so I think you can see the implications of missing the time switch.

I bring this up because I want to toss out a bouquet to KB, who managed to work the time switch into tonight’s performance of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (quick recap – I’ve been in the show for over 3 years now. I’ve played the role of Father Mark roughly 800 times and the role of the caterer, Vinnie Black, roughly 200 times). KB played Vinnie tonight. There is a moment in the show where Vinnie makes a lascivious comment about Maddie, who is the stripper girlfriend of the groom’s father. Tonight, KB looked at her and said, “Hey honey, a little after midnight, I’m gonna spring forward if you wanna fall back!”

Now believe me, I’m fully aware of what a cheesy line that is, and I have little doubt that it is a chestnut that has been around for years, though I didn’t have a chance to ask KB about that. But in the context of the show, it was perfect. Part of Vinnie’s character bio is that he is a failed stand-up comic who has married into the catering business, so he is a source of cheesy one-liners at various points in the show (you may speculate among yourselves as to why they thought I might be capable of playing a failed stand-up comic). KB needn’t worry about me appropriating the line for nights when I play Vinnie, since there are only 2 nights a year when that line can be trundled out.

There was one other recent show where an actor came up with a singularly appropriate one-liner. Let me set this up: During the chapel service, there is a point where Sister Terry leads the audience in a rousing chorus of “Sons of God,” which is a genuine church song from the 1970s. As she sings, she bangs two small cymbals in rhythm. At the end of the song, Father Mark smiles at her and says (completely ingenuously), “Thank you sister. You have a wonderful pair of clangers.” Well, on one recent night, sister forgot to bring along her cymbals, so she simply clapped her hands during the song. MD was playing Father Mark, and at the end of the song, he smiled and said, “Thank you sister. Your clap is infectious!”

While I’m at it, I should add one story on myself. One night last summer, our theater and the surrounding neighborhood suffered a power outage as we were preparing for a performance. We put on our costumes and makeup in a combination of candlelight and emergency lighting, all the while hoping that power would be restored and the show would go on. The power did come back on after we had kept the audience from leaving by giving out free drinks, so we started the show almost an hour later than scheduled. I was playing Father Mark, and I was struck with inspiration. I didn’t ask for permission to do this, because that would have given someone an opportunity to say “no.” At the very beginning of the chapel service, the first words out of my mouth were this ad lib: “We begin tonight with a reading from the book of Genesis, chapter one, verse three: ‘And God said, let there be light.’” It did get a bit of a laugh from the audience (and quietly freaked out a few fellow actors), and that was fine by me, because it was one of those moments that needed to happen less for its entertainment value and more for its poetic value.

I should add that parts of this show are highly improvisational, and no two shows are alike, so throwing a new line into this show is not nearly the traumatic experience that it would be in a more conventional scripted show. I’m imagining an improvisational approach to Hamlet: “To be, or not to be. Man, that is some heavy shit. Was I born with a ‘kick me’ sign on my ass? And how about these winters in Denmark? Christ, strike me dead or put me on a beach in Barcelona; either way, I’ll be better off than I am now . . .”

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