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Theater

   

HERSCHEL WAXMAN, a Broadway treasurer of long experience and now vice president of the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union Local No. 751, recalls an incident that took place one day when he was the man behind the ticket grill: "We always have people complaining that they can't see or can't hear so they need the best seats in the house. But one woman, she was classic. She needed two seats down front on the aisle because her husband had arthritis in his right leg. But his left shoulder pained him, too, and she didn't want him too exposed to the air conditioning. I said, 'So, you want your husband on the right aisle because of his bad right leg, on the left aisle because of his bad left shoulder, and in the middle, surrounded by people, because of the air conditioning?' She looked at me defiantly and said, 'Well, I'm paying.' "


WORKING at a theatre box-office ticket window poses many challenges in dealing with people. When a disgruntled customer at a window near mine exclaimed, "No tickets? What do you mean NO TICKETS?" the woman waiting on him smiled sweetly. "I'm terribly sorry, sir," she replied. "Which word didn't you understand?"


WHEN I was a university theatre director, my wife was once asked by one of her clients about her plans for the upcoming weekend. "I think I'll watch my husband's play," she replied. "Oh," the client said. "How many do you have?"


I WAS enjoying a performance of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at the dinner theatre where I worked as a stage manager. The final dance number drew to a close, and the actor playing Snoopy executed his usual graceful leap from the top of his doghouse. Upon landing however, he twisted his ankle. The curtain closed, and I rushed over to check on his injury. Just then, a woman from the audience appeared and asked if the actor required medical attention. "Are you a doctor?" I asked. "Better," she replied. "I'm a veterinarian!"


WE WERE attending a Community Concerts Association recital at our theater in Kelowna, B.C. One of the three young guest musicians was Endre Balogh, a violinist. While he was performing the difficult Paganini Caprice, a patrol car passed the theater with its siren full on. Balogh looked guiltily behind him, shrugged and said, "I didn't think I was playing too fast."


WHEN it rains in Ashland, Ore., veteran play goers attending the outdoor Elizabethan theatre come well prepared. They watch through little holes cut into the plastic garbage bags they've pulled over their heads. "Some nights," lamented an actor, "it's like playing to a thousand wet zucchinis."


I HAVE an actor friend who told me that early in his career, he and another beginning actor landed bit parts in a live TV drama. The show was a murder mystery, and they played policemen. My friend had no lines, but the other actor had a single line to deliver. In the second act there was supposed to be gunfire offstage, and he was to say, "Listen! I heard a pistol shot!" He practiced his line diligently, trying out various intonations to give it different shades of meaning. Finally, he was satisfied. The night of the show arrived, and his moment came. "Listen!" he exclaimed dramatically. "I heard a postil . . ." "What?" my friend ad-libbed. "Did you hear it?" the actor babbled frantically. "A shistel pot!" At that point, mercifully, it was time for a commercial. Everybody, except the red-faced actor, collapsed in hysterics. "After that," my friend told me, "the actor left the business and became a wealthy stockbroker. I only hope he remembers, when he's counting his money, that everything he is today he owes to a shistel pot."


A FAMOUS director was planning to film an emotional epilogue to his picture. The hero and heroine were to stand on a rocky promontory and, as they talked, the sun would rise slowly out of the ocean. Such a shot is not always made at the seashore. The sunrise is sometimes filmed separately and then thrown on a studio screen while the actors perform in front of it. So the director called in a camera crew and ordered his sunrise. The following morning they came back to the studio and said they hadn't been able to get it. They pointed out that the sun does not rise off the coast of California, it sets. "All right," said the director, "get me a beautiful sunset. We'll simply reverse the film, run it through backward, and we'll have our beautiful sunrise." The next day, all went according to plan. The hero and heroine took their places on the hand wrought rocky promontory and the sun peeped over the waves behind them. Suddenly someone let out a yell. It was all very lovely, except for one thing. The sea gulls were flying backward and the waves were going away from the shore.


COMPOSER Samuel Barber once called the phone company in New York City to get his number changed and asked for the new, unlisted number. The supervisor insisted it would have to be mailed to him. Normally a fairly unruffled fellow, Barber got mad. "I want my number now, right now!" he yelled. A helpless victim, Barber raged on, meeting only bland rejection. The supervisor, however, turned out to be a music lover with a weakness for Samuel Barber songs. She began to relent, but said she needed positive identification. If the customer could sing the first phrase of Samuel Barber's "Sure on This Shining Night". . . Barber sang and got his number.


BEING an experienced amateur magician, I was delighted when a "pro" invited me up on the stage as his assistant. At the end of his first trick, I whispered that I knew his gimmick. Next he did the collapsing wand trick, and I promptly made the wand stand upright. With admirable composure the magician leaned over and whispered, "Any last requests before I do the 'saw-in-half' with you?"


MY FRIEND Steve McQueen worked part time at a local theatre and told me if I ever wanted to see a movie to tell the person at the wicket that I knew him and I'd get in free. I took advantage of his offer one evening and told the woman in the box office that I was a friend of Steve McQueen's. "Just go on in," she told me.  As I was walking away, I heard the lady behind me say, "I'm a friend of Paul Newman's."


OUR daughter was chosen to play the role of Mary in a Christmas pageant. The morning of the first rehearsal we overslept and got her there late. The director wearily dismissed our apologies. "It doesn't matter," he said. "The shepherds have hockey practice and Joseph went ice fishing."


AS THE lights in the theater dimmed and the movie was about to begin, my husband and I noticed a young man coming down the aisle with two boxes of popcorn. We watched as he paced up and down, scanning the crowd in the near total darkness. After several seconds he stopped and asked in a loud voice, " Does anyone recognize me?"


   WHILE I was visiting my nephew, an aspiring actor in New York, he invited me to the play he was in, an off Broadway production.
   I had had a full day of shopping and sight-seeing and, since the play was slow-moving, it added up to a very tired me. Although my seat was front row centre, I felt I could grab a few minutes of shut-eye without anyone noticing. It so happened that the heroine had the same name as mine. According to the plot she had been in a car accident. It was then that my nephew rushed on stage, calling, "Eleanor, Eleanor, where are you? "
   Startled out of a sound sleep and not realizing what I was doing, I jumped up and answered, "Here I am!"
   From the stage, my nephew gave me a withering glare while I received rousing applause from the audience.


MY DAUGHTER was appearing in a production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  Everything went smoothly until a scene in which numerous players, bearing tapers, gathered onstage and an awkward silence fell.
   From behind the curtain, the prompter gave the line twice; but to no avail. "Done to death by slanderous tongues," he said a third time in a loud stage whisper.  Just as loudly, my daughter hissed back. "We know the words, but not who sayeth them!"
   

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Last updated October 02, 2015 by Becquet Enterprises