I came across this photo the other day while I was searching for the warranty to my printer (you don’t want to know). That’s me on the left, and every bit of hair you see there is my own. I was playing the role of Clement Musgrove (“a rich and lucky planter”) in a production of The Robber Bridegroom. It was one of the best roles and one of the best shows I ever did in my years at Detroit’s Attic Theatre. It was a bluegrass musical and we performed it with a rip-roarin’ bluegrass band on the stage with us. That production sold a lot of season tickets for the Attic that year, though a goodly number of the folks who bought season tickets based on that show were a little put off by the show we did right after Robber Bridegroom – a little drama about Nazi persecution of homosexuals called Bent. For that, I was clean shaven and had my hair cut to about a half-inch long for my portrayal of a concentration camp guard (I turned down a nude role in that production, but that’s another story).
But back to that photo. The woman on the right is Clement’s shrewish wife, Salome. She was portrayed by Ms. Aden Russell and one of the “in” jokes of our production was that in real life, Aden was a leggy, gorgeous blonde, and this role was a distinct departure for her, which I think she frankly relished. I wanted to share this photo because this show was such a joy to perform – it was one of those shows where the entire cast is onstage for the entire show and the scenery is all made by moving planks, barrels, and other simple props.
One memorable moment for me – Clement has one of the last spoken lines in the show. It comes near the end of a big musical production number. Everyone comes to a sudden stop and Clement hands a bag to Jamie (who is the title character Robber Bridegroom) with the line, “Here’s a big sack o’ gold fer ya, Jamie!” Well, one night, the stage manager neglected to put the sack on the peg that I needed to grab it from, and since I never exited, I couldn’t go backstage to get it. I didn’t realize it was gone until I swung by to grab it, so I had about five seconds to come up with a Plan B. The music stopped, I looked at Jamie, and said, “I SHORE wish I had a big sack o’ gold fer ya, Jamie!” No acting was required of me at that moment, since I was very much speaking from the heart! The entire cast then performed the final 20 seconds of the show in barely contained fits of laughter. Ah, the joys of live theater . . .