Athenian’s Production Of Guys And Dolls

I had the esteemed privilege to see TW jump up on a desk on-stage tonight and rip out a stellar “Sit Down Your Rockin’ The Boat” in his reprised character of Nicely Nicely that he re-made famous back in our senior year, 1993.

TW’s school, in which he is a seasoned teacher now, is putting on a multiple night production of Guys and Dolls to raise money for their school and I believe their sister school in Africa or whatnot. Or maybe just the latter. Anyways, it was very well done and very entertaining. Thanks for allowing me to come watch.

Artistic endevours always gets me buzzing a bit, and in this case thinking back as well…

I remember this one story from my only exposure to theater thus far. I was 24. Just moved do San Diego for the first time, and had just finished a book on Kirk Douglas.

Yeah, pretty fucking random choice in books, but it wasn’t so much as a choice, as simply following up on a recommendation from a gal I had recently met.

Six months before the checking out of this book, I was traveling around in Costa Rica, with surfboard, guitar, and backpack, all strapped to my back. Collecting some excellent memories and doing my best to avoid STDs (and my Lord I have some funny stories on that, but will keep it clean here out of respect to the double XX chromosomes that may stumble upon this post). But, I met this one young lovely lady from Canada.

Sarah would be her name.  An attractive, exuberant young lady. And if memory serves correctly, ripped like a mother f-er. But not overly mother f-er ripped. Pushing the boundaries, but not crossing it. It worked. I dug it.

Anyways, I met her in some restaurant out near the surf break, Witches Rock… What is the name of the town though?… Help me out. Tamarindo? I think that might be it. Sarah, was sitting there chatting away w/ her travel companion. A relatively quiet guy, it seems, she had met a few weeks earlier. She too was traveling alone. (Come to think of it, she was sort of Kate-esque from LOST. Not a clone, but cut from a similar cloth of sexy bad-ass fabric.

Since I was traveling solo, I struck up a conversation w/ the two of them, making an effort to include both so I didn’t want to appear that I was trying to pull a Sawyer on her. But regardless of my intentions, our three person conversation turned to a two person conversation, to the eventual emancipation of nice, but too passive guy.

Which was selfish in certain aspects, but a good thing because him sitting there being quiet would have been a bit awkward and distracting when she and I were spending the majority of our time naked together.

Anyways, during our next two weeks together, before she would head down to Panama, and I would make my way back to San Jose, Costa Rica, to complete my journey, she told me how much she loved this Kirk Douglas book.

So, there you go.

I stored it in the back of my mind somewhere, and six months later, wallah (sp?) I checked it out from the Pacific Beach Library in San Diego.
And I read it. I don’t remember it all, but what I do remember was that upon it’s completion, I was fully inspired to try some acting first hand.

So, I went down to the local community college located in downtown San Diego. Sort of close to where Hillcrest (hey 4) or Banker’s Hill transitions into the city.

The community college happened to be auditioning for a musical called, 40’s Radio Hour. The auditions were not only for students, but also adults of all ages who didn’t have to be affiliated with the school. Come to think of it, I’m not sure there were any student’s in the production. It was an older cast.

“So shit”, I thought. “Why not try out? I have no experience. What do I have to lose?”

A lot. It turned out.

A lot of face.

It was actually pretty funny, even then.

I showed up at the audition with a whatever/quasi nervous attitude. I was well aware that I was out of my element which sort of brought me safety in knowing that. No ego to be bruised.

So I walked in and up onto the stage.

The spotlight was beaming down on me. The scene was totally cliche, so whatever you’re picturing is totally right on.

The casting director spoke:

“Name”

“BN” (You know, to keep some mystery from the casting director as well. I’m sure Brando pulled shit like that).

“What’s your background?”

“Played a singing elf in a 3rd grade production of Father Christmas.”

“Excellent. What are you going to sing for us today?”

“….Excuse me?”

“What do you have prepared?”

“Um….”

I swear, I look back on so many times and situations in my life and truly appreciate what an idiot I am at times, but like I am looking back on my son’s life or something, I am able to laugh at it.

And this case was no exception. After looking like an idiot for several long moments, I finally put an end to this level of awkwardness and embarrassment by…well…notching it up several levels.

I dug deep and began a God-awful Elvis impersonation of a Conway Twitty song.

I didn’t know what else to do, and a few notes into it, I was able to step outside of myself and not only hear how awful it was, but also see that I was actually doing all the Elvis gyrations. Holy shit….

So mercifully it came to an end to crickets with the director, who after a very meaningful and appropriate pause interrupted the silence with a…

“Well…that was interesting”.

Man.

But, what do you know? I got a part.

Not ‘the’ part since I had no idea what I was auditioning for. But it turned out, they more or less created a part for me. Not exactly created, but it was an optional role that they weren’t planning on using in the play until they met me.

Which was kind of flattering, I figured.

The role was for Stanley. I remember clearly hearing the name for the first time over the phone.
“Crap, I’m really doing this”, I thought. I looked down on the coffee table. Kirk Douglas gave me a stoic, dimpled chin nod of approval from atop the hard cover.

Alright Spartacus, onwards and upwards.

I drove downtown and picked up the script. I thumbed through the pages to introduce myself to my character. Here was the character’s breakdown-

Stanley:

A dim witted, clumsy light technician.

Ouch.

Oh, you got to love it. It actually turned out well. I did the character much in the same grain as Woody Boyd from Cheers and it got rave reviews from our small sold our crowds. It felt natural. It was fun to do.

But damn though, what a funny memory.

BN


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