Friday, June 22, 2012


It's been a good year for shows, so far.

After singing in the geek chorus for Geeks! The Musical, I got to be part of Inland Valley Repertory Theatre's production of Hairspray. I didn't get the part I had auditioned for, Corny Collins, the television host. But later, I was asked to fill in for the role of Male Authority Figure, a role that covers the bit parts of school principal, prison guard, and Mr. Pinky, the flamboyant dress shop owner.

The role also included Mr. Spritzer, the president of the Spritzer Hairspray company, who is in cahoots with the villainous Velma. Boy, did I have a good time! Once again, I felt lucky that things worked out the way that they did. Most of my performing experience has been singing and dancing, so I value the opportunity to do any non-singing, non-dancing parts.

Mr. Spritzer turned out to my favorite character. He ended up being a prissy, uptight, mousey, and nervous conservative, the way he came out of me. At first, all I could hear in my head was Droopy's voice (that nasally, sad sack cartoon dog) in the way that I vocalized the company president. Spritzer's posture was perpetually hunched over in the way I "felt" him, physically, constantly wringing his hands in worry, and always wrinkling his nose, as if he smelt something distasteful. He was also very jumpy, startled by any sudden dance movements of the teenagers-on-TV, or flinching at any musical outbursts during the songs.

I was a little disappointed not to be in any of the dance numbers, age-inappropriate as it may be for me, for this particular show of nostalgia. But I was happy just to be in rehearsals, watching the younger cast members dance . . . dancers half my age or younger, many of them young enough to be my daughters or sons.

My mother attended a performance with my Aunt Pat. She said, more than once, "I can't believe I'm old enough to have a son playing older characters on stage!"

Yep. I'm just glad that there are age-appropriate parts for me to audition for, still. I'm grateful for this production of Hairspray. Each and every cast member was amazingly talented. The production and directing team was on top of their game. I was impressed with how efficient and organized they were. And we all bonded so quickly, in a supportive atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration.

I'm sorry I missed the chance to be part of their production last year - Chicago! - but I'm grateful to get my foot in the door with them this year, and to have the chance to make a good impression.

I hope I did.

It's been a good year for shows. I was just cast in an upcoming production of Miss Saigon, as part of the Vietnamese ensemble. This is a show I have always wanted to do, and I continue to be grateful for performing opportunities, for dreams come true.

I can cross a couple more wishes off of my bucket list.

The photo above is of my new friends Jamie, as Velma Von Tussle, and Cesare, as Corny Collins, in Inland Valley Repertory Theatre's production of Hairspray. The one on the left with the squinty-eyed sourpuss face is yours truly. Photo credit: James Isaac Creative

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