Since I was twelve years old they've been taking me out the closet and winding me up to sing and stuffing me back in again. Well maybe I don't feel like singing.
~ Judy GarlandNow. Now is the most important time of all of your young lives. And what does now stand for -- N-O-W? No Other Way. That's the only time -- NOW!
~ Mickey Rooney
A Walk in the Woods
TONIGHT on TV
The Democratic Convention
MICKEY AND JUDY STILL LIVE
29 July 2004
Several of the popular Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney films had the same theme: "We could rent a barn! We could put on a show!"
The shows were always wildly popular, had sets and costumes that would do a Broadway stage proud. They had Busby Berkley to choreograph the musical numbers. And they usually wound up saving the town or saving the farm or saving the University. Always making big bucks or something. There was usually some sort of Broadway scout in the audience who offers the whole gang an opportunity to take the show to New York.
The other night we visited Schmeisers Barn, called "historic," for reasons Im not quite clear on, for a production of a new play called "My Avisia Winger" by a playwright youve never heard of, named Brian Oglesby.
This is a production in the best tradition of those old MGM musicals. "My Avisia Winger" started out as a short story written for a local teacher's high school English class. When Oglesby went to college, he received a grant to allow him to turn it into a play. He brought the play back to Davis, got together with some of the guys with whom he used to perform in local young people's theatre, and out of that had some this preview of a new play and a new local theatre.
Stephen Schmidt, also a graduate of the local young people's theatre company went looking for a location and found Schmeiser's Barn. He convinced the owners of the barn to let it be turned into a summer theatre and he and his crew set to work doing the conversion.
The barn is located five miles out of town. A few yards before you get to it, there is a hand painted sign telling you that the turn off is coming, and another hand painted sign at the turn-off, onto a dirt road. The barn is around back of the house of the people who own the barn, so there are signs directing you to the back of the house, where you park in a dirt field.
The barn was strung with tiny Christmas tree lights, which would give some light after the sun went down.
I went to get my tickets--always so nice to know that people give you free tickets--and then we were directed to what looked like the gate to a horse stall, where we were to enter the barn.
We kind of stumbled along some wooden walkways in the dark to where someone was waiting to take our tickets. He also had a spray can of "OFF" in his hands and offered us the chance to spray ourself with the bug repellant, a nice touch, given that the barn was open and, over the night, would be filled with all sorts of flying critters, drawn in by the lights over the stage.
The stage was built in the middle of the barn, with seats kind of put in where they fit, so the audience has the sense of being in the Wingers' living room throughout the play.
While we waited for things to start, the farm dog came running in, onto the stage, and started making friends with people seated nearby. They had to chase him around the stage to get him outside so the action could start. I loved that little homey bit of whimsy.
As for the play, it was quite good. It starts with Avisia's husband, played by the very talented Nick Herbert, who has always reminded me of Paul, and who has massive amounts of dialog in this play, stating that "My wife has an imaginary friend."
It turns out that Avisia has had a terrible accident which has severely changed her. For one thing, she imagines that her best friend is an invisible person named "Goshawk." The play concerns how her husband adapts to the changes in Avisia, how other people attempt to assist him, etc.
In the end, it has a Sixth Sense plot twist that leaves you wanting to return and see it again to see if you can pick up the same clues in the play that we all missed in Sixth Sense and went to see the movie again to check out.
The last lines of the play, spoken by a friend of Avisia's husband are "My friend has an imaginary wife."
It was a marvelous first attempt by this new theatrical company. There were no multi-million dollar costumes, or Busby Berkley choreography, but there was some killer sound effect. At one point you get a summer storm in such convincing surround sound that it wasn't until the husband goes to the door to let in a delivery person who wears rain gear that we all realized that it was a sound effect, not real rain (in fact, we kind of expected to find mud in the parking lot when we emerged).
The crew had thought so much of everything that there were even people with flashlights waiting for the audience to emerge so they could lead them through the dark to their cars.
I suspect that this will be a short-lived theatre. I suspect all the people involved will be headed back to college when the summer is over.
But by golly, they found a barn and they put on a show.
Mickey and Judy would be proud.
There is a new Sheila Movie - this is a dark movie, but it shows Sheila's weird habit of backing up to Kimba and straddling her with her back legs. I've never seen a dog do this before!