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31 July 2003

Last night we went to Sacramento's Music Circus, our Tuesday night summertime activity. Music Circus has been running for 53 years and is an area tradition. It brings in professional performers to do well-known shows, filling in the lesser roles with local actors. There was a time when bigger names appeared on the marquee (generally once big names who were now headed toward the "B" list of performers), but now the names are almost always unfamiliar to me.

music-circus.jpg (15982 bytes)For the first 52 years of its existence, Music Circus performed in a huge tent, with patrons sitting on uncomfortable director's type chairs. It was hot and stuffy in the valley heat and even the addition of air conditioning prior to the show didn't make it less uncomfortable on really hot nights. But it's been a very popular event, made more pleasant this year by the building of a permanent strucure, with non-canvas walls, air conditioning, bigger bathrooms, and regular theatre seats.   (The graphic is an artist's arial view of the newly redesigned complex.)

We have not, over the years, been Music Circus regulars. Tickets are not cheap. But we went periodically when we knew someone in the show, when Jeri was working there, or when it was something we really, really wanted to see.

(There was a year when Jeri was working and Annie was on the bill. While the show came with a "professional dog" to play Sandy, they also needed a mutt to appear on stage briefly. Jeri found a dog who belonged to a woman here in Davis, and for the week of the performances, I was the dog chauffeur, bringing him to the theatre before the show, and taking him home after his appearance each night!)

When I became a theatre reviewer, Music Circus became my assignment (among other theatres). So we have now been to all the shows for the past two seasons and are enjoying this year's season as well, especially now that the place is temperature controlled (very important this season where we have had, to date, 17 days this month of over 100 degree temps!)

Last night's show was the 1950s musical, Damn Yankees, the show that gave us songs like "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets," and "Heart."

(You know the song..."you gotta have heart....miles and miles and miles of heart...")

The show was excellent, but when the baseball manager began to give his team a pep talk and launched into "Heart," my mind wandered back in time to my grammar school and my years as a Girl Scout.

My friend Michelle Ciccerone's mother was our scout leader. She had been a dancer before she married and her choice of activity for us each year was to put on a variety show.

In San Francisco, the Girl Scouts have--or had at that time--a cabin that is set in the middle of all these large apartment buildings, but is on a lot, behind a wooden fence, and it was like stepping back into a country back yard. The cabin had a crude stage and we performed our variety shows for the parents there.

The numbers that we did were almost entirely lip synched to records (Michelle and I each were the exceptions--we did original numbers that we sang ourselves--I'm not sure why. I've never had a solo quality voice.)

I remember that one number I lip synched was "Hey there," from Pajama Game. The lyrics include "he's not you dancing on a string...break it and he won't care..." where I was supposed to break a string, which, of course, did not break.

But the number I remember most vividly was "Heart." Michelle's mom decided we would do it as a barbershop quartet number and as I recall we wore straw hats, bow ties and big paper moustaches as we lip synched to the record.

I was never comfortable on stage. I went through terrible stage fright and shook like I had palsy whenever I had to actually perform in front of an audience. So you can imagine how I felt as I continued going through the motions and realized that my moustache was coming off. As I began to sweat with nervousness about being on stage and embarrassment about what was happening with my moustache, it made it worse because the sweat made the moustache behave even more erratically.

I never had the presence of mind to just take the damn thing off and hold it, but continued gamely and ended the number with the moustache at a rakish angle, hanging over my mouth.  I wanted to sink into the floor and die.  It's one reason why, through all the years of their performing on stage, my admiration for my kids has never waivered.  I remember how awful it was for me--always--to be on stage and I don't know where these exhibitionists came from!

It's amazing how vivid--and still embarrassing--that memory is today. I am happy to report that nobody on stage last night had any embarrassing mishaps...and nobody wore a fake moustache.


Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain

~ Mark Twain

Today's Photo

ftp_DamnYankeesPromo_041.jpg (32291 bytes)

"You Gotta Have Heart"
publicity photo by Steve Kolb

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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