I Love Live Theatre

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I love live theater. There’s something awesome about it. Movies are one thing; a live performance is another. In a movie, there are retakes, but theater is like real life… if you make a mistake, you have to force your way through it and keep going (if you do it well, the audience never notices). Most actors actually prefer to act on the stage, since it means more interaction with their audience, as well as the task of delivering an entire play rather than a few lines. That is part of the allure and the charm, to marvel at the talent it takes to memorize and recite a two-hour production.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of performances. There have been Dinner Playhouses (the only time I have ever really appreciated Oklahoma!), local group functions, church theater companies, and Broadway musicals on tour. I’ve even been in a few plays here and there, with clammy palms and an impending heart attack. My first role was Mary, the Mother of Christ, in a little Church Pageant. The boys liked playing football with the baby Jesus doll in-between rehearsals and Joseph was wearing Nikes under his bed sheet. Since the boys had a habit of rattling the manger in rehearsals, I did something very un-Mary-like when they knelt down to look at “Baby Jesus.” I said, “Touch him and die.” But I said it with a smile, so no one knew about it.

The next year I was the bad Christian who turned a girl away because she didn’t dress right for church. I had fun with that part. What can I say? It’s a well known fact that the villains have more fun.

I’ve seen two different local productions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In one of them the potted tree kept falling over. I’m fairly sure by the end, the director was annoyed enough to want to kick it across the stage, but she didn’t.

There are many stories about mishaps in live theater and some of them are truly funny. My favorite musical is The Phantom of the Opera. Though most of the time the show runs smoothly, now and again it doesn’t. A Christine I saw had to quickly and quietly disentangle her skirt from the Phantom’s boat, while singing and trying not to trip on her way out. She did it so well, I’m not sure anyone but me noticed. Not everyone keeps their cool, though. One time, Michael Crawford was having such trouble with the boat (it kept stopping, then starting), he really did give it a stout kick. Another time, he was so tired from multiple performances that he fell asleep at his perch and almost missed his line! Over the years, wigs caught on fire, lines were flubbed to magnificent absurdity, and costumes have been torn. In the 25th anniversary performance, the arm of the Phantom’s jacket caught in a wire, and he had to remove it and finish the play without his topcoat.

Recently, I had a chance to attend a performance of Murder on the Air, by a local group. It was a Friday night and I’d spent the entire day putting together an issue of the Prairie Times. I was tired and not sure I wanted to go but I did. And I loved every minute of it. The 1940’s setting, the beautiful harmony of the musical pieces, the terrific acting from a group of talented young ladies made me forget the long day I’d had at work. I was sorry to see it end.

Summer is a great time for live theater. It’s a great time to laugh and socialize and see a show. I hope you find time to squeeze one in this summer, if you can — even if it’s not “off Broadway.”

6 Replies to “I Love Live Theatre”

  1. Live theater is SUCH an incredible rush. My love affair with the medium was born out of high school experience, where for four years I worked backstage (and loved every second). 🙂 The high school shows were Bye Bye Birdie, Grease, Crazy for You, and Annie Get Your Gun. I was so thrilled when my family got to see a the touring production of Annie after I’d worked the show in school (with Marilu Henner as Annie Oakley and Tom Wopat as Frank Butler). It was so incredible seeing the pros put on the show and feeling that my own experience had given me “extra insight” into their staging/interpretation.

    Ruth

  2. Ironic you should post this… my family is talking about seeing something again this summer. It has been a while since we saw something. Last live production I saw was “Mamma Mia!” (I think), and that was two or three years ago.

  3. Jon and I went to see Hello, Dolly once and we loved it. That’s one thing I miss from college, the productions. One year, they did A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it was magnificent. I also loved the little plays and things throughout the year. I’d love to be in something like that (I was a couple times in early elementary school, but don’t remember much, other than I was jealous of the little girl I was saying the lines with. She got to have a lovely old lady outfit [we recited the Old Lady and the Shoe], but I just had regular clothes because my parents couldn’t afford to get me a costume), but I had regular clothes.

    In fourth or fifth grade, I saw a play version of Bridge to Terabithia and was blown away. I’m sure grown-up me might not be so amazed, but it was magical. I remember me and the other kids (we’d read it in class, and our teacher took us to see it) were disappointed to learn that grown-ups were going to be performing–they were going to ruin it for sure! But they was perfect, especially the woman who played the part of the little sister.

    One day, I’d love to see a big production in NYC or something!

  4. I’m a huge live theatre fan as well (*hopeful future stage actress, cough*). I definitely hope to see a show or two this season! ^_^
    Theatre flubs can be pretty hilarious. My voice teacher was in several musicals, and he has told stories about funny things that happened during shows, such as when a prop fell off the stage and some ladies kept trying to put it back on the stage for the actors, but it kept falling off anyway.
    I think that my favorite show that I have ever seen live was probably Oklahoma!, which I also saw at a dinner theatre. I wasn’t so sure about how much I was going to like it at first because of the western theme (I’m not the cowgirl type, lol), but the production was really fun and I loved the music. I also love the whole idea of a dinner theatre, because it’s so close and feels that much more real, if only because of the proximity of the stage. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a close second for a musical with songs that I enjoyed, however.
    I also enjoyed going to The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee. There is a song or two I would have cut out for risque themes, but there are parts of the show that were fun, especially since you could arrive early and volunteer to be in the first act as a speller (which I did & had a lot of fun with, haha).
    Are there any shows you are looking forward to this year? I’m hoping to maybe catch The Sound of Music while it’s at one of the local theatres.

    1. You need to read some of the mistakes made during Phantom of the Opera performances. I laughed so hard I actually cried, particularly at the occasions in which people forgot their lines and said something that was NOTHING LIKE the original.

      You got to see The Scarlet Pimpernel?! That is awesome. I’ve never seen the show, only heard the music. I’ve seen PotO three or four times, and Wicked and Les Miserables once. I was considering seeing Wicked again this summer while it’s on tour but my goodness, the ticket prices are insane! I’ve seen several different productions in dinner theater playhouses — and you’re right, they are awesome. I have also come to the conclusion that with one or two exceptions (*cough*PotO*cough*) a video performance of a live show just isn’t the same. I saw bits and pieces of Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman in it and just wasn’t feeling it.

      Tonight, I’m going to a second performance of the play I mentioned at the end of my blog post. It’s a fundraiser this time. But it’ll be a blast to see a second time. =)

      1. Oh my goodness, those are great! I started reading the U.S. mistakes and am going to have to read them all, haha. It reminds me of another story my teacher told me about. He was playing the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and was wearing really heavy costuming on his head for the Beast’s face. There was a dramatic moment in the musical where he was supposed to stand center stage and sing a song after a very fast costume change. Yet when he went to stand center stage he could swear he thought his pants came unzipped because things were “drafty”, shall we say, but he couldn’t easily check what had happened or anything with his costume on. He tried to concentrate so that the scene would go well enough off that if there was a costume malfunction, he hoped no one would notice. After the scene he was backstage & checked but everything was still fine. This happened for about 2 more performances and started freaking him out. Finally, one night he went out there on the stage when he wasn’t performing and realized, in the center of the stage there was some kind of air vent! There had never been any costume malfunction. He told this to my musical theatre class and we were laughing so hard, lol. 😉
        Yes, I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel! I was a little disappointed when it strayed from the book, but it *is* a musical, after all. Some of the music is magnificent (and Madame Guillotine is catchy, even if the lyrics are somewhat gory).
        Yes- the videos just don’t do the performances justice. I have seen parts of the Oklahoma! video as well, and while I like some scenes, altogether I find the video version generally boring in comparison with the live show.
        I agree about ticket prices for some of the tours- gah!! My family wanted to take me to Mary Poppins or something like that for my birthday, but I guess the prices were outrageous (we saw the ballet Cinderella instead.. not quite as much fun as a musical, but still pretty neat). I reallyreallyreally want to see POTO sometime. 🙂

        Have fun at your musical! That is one great thing about live performances.. you can go a 2nd and a 3rd time, and the show will never be exactly the same. It makes it more fun. 🙂

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