Reading Between the lines
Thank you, Camera Digital, oh thank you for keeping life real, and silly, and helping the days tension rush out in a huge whoop of laughter.................ooo, ho, ho, oho, oh man I needed that. Hah. What a weird day.
It started with an only mildly torturous dance session, doing 3 of the numbers followed by a short break, and then moving on to meeting some new actors and then working them in; the first actor introduced to us is Rudy. Rudy is at least 65 years old and is small, burly chested, wears Spanish made lizard skin cowboy boots, has a Texas accent, and a voice like he gargles with gravel. He's a sweetheart. He just got off a plane, it's his first day, and he's relatively new to the material, but it's pretty clear that Rudy is not an actor. Hm. Interesting. What is Rudy?
Things aren't really what they appear here. It feels as if the fabric of reality is warping. Part of it is born of the collision, or fusion rather, of two different worlds. Film--Rider McDowells world, and Theatre--Sam Meisner's and mine. And they're almost the same, but worlds apart as to how we approach the work and the final effect on me is much like the film Lost in Translation.
Rider at one point said "Cut! OK! Good guys--now lets try........." Some part of me flinched. Cut? That's simply not a word that's used in theatre, or at any rehearsal I've ever been a part of; it's always "Good! OK let's stop here for a second.........." or "Hold here please" or something similar. When he started saying "Action!" to start the scenes it felt blatantly filmic, wrong, but then something clicked--Rider is of Hollywood, and the world of film is steeped in the waters and worship of personality. He's using his language in rehearsal, and he's made a compromise with the cast--he's filled the 3 leading roles with professional Stage actor/singers, and then rounded out the rest of the cast in a decidedly more "personality driven" (for lack of a better term) vein. He's from Monterey, so he's pulling from the community to fill other roles. It's hard to describe this event or some of the people without sounding catty, disparaging or snotty even to myself--I'll attempt to chronicle this in a positive light, but in an honest one as well.
We met Rider's wife and find that she is the lady who invented Airborne, the cold defense tablets--she's to play one of the doo-wop girls and their son will play the "stooge boy"--he gets to pick his nose onstage. They're both very nice people. We meet as well our Mr. Hillbilly to be--he's almost 7' tall and has reddish hair dreadlocked past his shoulders, also a lovely guy, and one other who's so odd I cannot describe well or kindly so I just won't. You fill in the blank.
A few days ago I was reading the weekly Monterey paper and on the last page, top right corner, I spotted an ad which read" WANNA RUN AROUND IN A GORILLA COSTUME?" .............yep, you guessed it, they were searching for someone to play Garganta. And they did--he's a nice guy and sounds a good actor. And he's the one in the gorilla costume.................
It's just the weirdest thing either Sam or I have ever done--we compared notes.
Rudy gave me his card as I drove him to the motel--this is what met my eyes when I finally got around to reading it:
Rudy "Tutti" Grayzell
*Legendary Recording Artist
*Rock-a-billy Hall of Fame Inductee
*Available: Concerts, Conventions, Lounges
*Solo or Full Back-Up Band
*Original Elvis Presley Opening Act
*TV & Stage Personality