Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Waiting for Guffman: the reality series

It was a beautiful and sunny Tennessee Saturday, when Iain, my director, called me around 2 in the afternoon. “Ricky isn’t going to be able to sing tonight- even his speaking voice is completely gone, so I’m going to be filling in for him tonight. Just wanted to prepare you.”

Exqueeze me, What? I’m sorry Iain, I must have misunderstood you. It sounded like you said that you, in all your 60 year old, fluffy white haired glory, would be playing the part of 21 year old Fredrick tonight.

Oh yes. It actually happened. Twice. And what followed between Ann and myself were a series of Waiting for Guffman quotes backstage. (This movie is a must see for anyone who has done theater before, particularly community theater.)

All I could hear was Parker Posey saying, “Y’all, it is the day of the show,” in the part of the movie where the cast finds out that Johnny Savage cannot perform that night in “Red, White, and Blaine.” Only this time, we were doing "Pirates of Penzance," and instead of Corky St. Clair, we were stuck with Iain. There is a scene where Corky is trying to fit into Johnny’s costume, and of course it doesn’t fit (“I’m trying,” Corky says, “I’m shoving everything to the left.”). Iain luckily found a different costume to wear. There’s also a Guffman scene with Parker Posey and Corky St. Clair in their song-and- dance love scene “A Penny for your thoughts” which scarily resembled the Pirates “Stay Fredrick Stay/Oh here is love” duet in the second act between Mabel and Frederick.

I was literally living out this mockumentary and was a cheap laugh for the audience at my expense. Sunday’s performance was even worse, because not only was the audience not as forgiving and understanding, but Iain turned into a letch onstage, making goofy faces at me, trying to get me to break character, and ultimately gnawing playfully (ie. Disgustingly) at my neck at the end of the Act 1 finale, prompting me to tell him to “please be professional” in front of the entire cast backstage during intermission. He completely grossed me out. I tried my hardest to stay in character, but the entire situation was just laughable, and a DIVA can only take so much.

I know this: I will never look at "Waiting for Guffman" the same again.

Stay tuned for more stories from the Port of Penzance, as Ricky is still sick, and Iain has an understudy coming in for tomorrow night’s performance.

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