The Performance – Part 2: The Show
I rushed up the hill in my car to get showered and dressed (in my white dinner jacket, “Jack Benny” outfit). Someone had stolen my reserved space in the parking lot (jerks) so I had to run down the hill to the theater to get there on time. On the way, I caught up with my father who was coming to see the show. He was looking forward to seeing what I had been cooking up all this time. We walked the rest of the way together…which was remarkably pleasant.
“So,” he asked, “where’d you get the Buick?”
“The what?” I replied.
“There’s a 1930’s Buick parked in front of the theater.”
Sure enough…Right there in front of The Castro was a spectacular, near-mint condition 1937 Buick! The car was shiny and gorgeous in the twinkling marquee lights. All of the pre-show actors seemed to cluster around it as they greeted the audience on their way in. It was a perfect addition to the 1930’s flavor.
The Pre-show cast was fun to watch. We had disgruntled businessmen, angry cabbies and newsies, squealing autograph hounds, CBS office workers, and (of course) members of our stage cast coming in for “work”. Someone said “Hello, Mr. Benny!” to me, so I immediately began my Jack Benny impersonation. If only I had a violin with me.
The audience began to fill their seats (grabbing sodas and popcorn, of course) and I ran upstairs to the projection booth to tell the projectionist that we were ready to go. He flashed the lights…the lobby emptied…and I came out onto the stage to give my introduction to the show. The energy was amazing from the audience (a lot of them were friends…but there was a good portion of complete strangers there as well). After my intro…I ran off the stage and watched as 6 months worth of hard work and stress began to unfold into reality before me.
The show went remarkably well. The audience laughed at unexpected (but well suited) moments, they cheered at others (like when Davidson Taylor gets “knocked out”…that was a REALLY BIG cheer).
I was almost moved to tears during a moment in the show when Orson Welles is forced to monologue … and he begins to prove why he is a great actor. His monologue was written by Howard Koch…but for theatricality we changed history a little bit to suit our vanity. Anyway…the actor playing Welles had been fighting a horrible bug, and he still managed to pull himself together to blow us away with his talent.
The show ended…the audience applauded…and we began to tear down the set so the Castro could show the 1953 movie. It was the quickest, and most efficient, tear-down I have ever seen. We were done in 10 minutes! Wow!
While the audience enjoyed the 50’s movie…some of us went out to The Sausage Factory for wine and Italian food…and basking in our glory.
NEXT! – The Aftermath…