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
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
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
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,"
me. As I was walking away, I heard the lady behind me say, "I'm a friend of
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
darkness. After several seconds he stopped and asked in a loud voice, " Does anyone
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
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!"