It was one of those “Daisy Chain” kind of thoughts, something got me thinking of something that made me remember my days working at Delaware Children’s theatre. Not a unpleasant bunch of memories, I can’t believe it was so long ago.
It was the first year they had moved to the new building ( the old “New Century Club”) on Delaware Avenue, my friend Amocay had talked me into volunteering to help on a production of “Wizard of Oz” and I ended up staying for years.
It is cliche to say, but to me there was a certain magic to that theatre, specially in the new building. It had a balcony, a beautiful (but smallish) stage and dressing rooms and a band balcony above the stage... very victorian (and at night, somewhat scary). The shows had a certain “little Rascals” feel about them, undoubtedly something was always left to the last second but the curtain always went up on time.
I still remember the cursed production of “Hedi”, during one show, the light board ( a ancient Dr Frankenstein like panel from the turn of the prior century) caught on fire and I ended up lighting the entire show with my spot from the balcony.
When I started to help there I was all of 18 or 19, all I wanted to do was work my light. I would always have been up late the night before, watching movies or gaming or something. I think the first time I got “The call” from Mrs S was on a production of “pinocchio”. She walked up to me, a few days before opening and told me that the guy playing the coachman had dropped out and asked me if I would fill in. Being a trooper I said yes... but with the stipulation that I didnt have to sing... this was agreed to and sure enough a few days latter on opening day I WAS singing on stage ( “The wonderful land of the toys” probably never sounded so bad).
I remember stepping in at the last minute to be the Huntsman in snow white and probably my greatest roll... that of Homer Zuckerman, the farmer from Charlottes web. I was asked to play Homer a few weeks before opening so I should have guessed that another shoe had to fall to truly make it a Clockwinder role... the shoe falling was the guy playing Lurvey dropping out like the day before we opened. Why is this a issue you ask... well almost all my lines were to Lurvey and I was given the “Brian take care of it wink”. I ended up delivering lines to Lurvey as if he was off stage and repeating the important parts of his lines like I was clarifying them “ Whys this pig so special?” sort of thing ( “SOME PIG”).
There were some truly magical moments and performances at the theatre, I still know almost every song in “Alice in wonderland” and the “Fabulous Fable Factory”. They usually had a fundraiser every year, a play geared to a adult audience, one year it was “The Sound Of Music” and I was not only stage Manager but Herr Zeller as well, all my exits were followed by a mad dash to a curtain or backdrop line.... but it was fabulous.
The kids... OMG... every show had dozens of kids as chorus, munchkins, cursed swiss alps people or mindless zombies... at least thats how I remember it. They were fantastic, just sitting around clowning with the kids was worth every second of my time there. I meet so many talented people there even some of the younger stars had more talent then you could imagine.
It was fun being a Techie in those days, there was always a line that a lead would have trouble with...time and time again and you would all be on the headsets routing for them “OW So close!”. Or those heads up moments when a actor would suddenly skip ahead 4 pages of script... believe it or not... it was fun.
Children's Theatre, when I worked there had a vibe, almost a reverence, to this day I swear if you cussed in that place the god lord’s foot would descend through the roof and kick your butt... I still remember one late night working on sets when Mr. H. hit his hand with a hammer and uttered “the” cuss word and everyone just froze waiting for judgement day.
In the end I think it was Children’s theatre that grew up, not me... it was getting more and more professional and I wasn’t. We parted ways, DCT still entertains children on weekends and gives young actors a place to grow and I still remember my time there is something magical, cherishing my memories of those days. I’m shore I owe some of my better qualities to those hectic productions and fantastic people.