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MISTY, WATER-COLORED MEMORIES
24 April 2006
My project of copying VHS tapes to DVD progresses, slowly. It's not like I'm continually making DVDs, but when the spirit moves me (or when I'm running out of videos for my vlog!) I put another VHS tape onto DVD.
I've been transferring Oliver!, the 1981 production by The Davis Art Center. I did the whole show as one file, but forgot that it's easier to rip bits and pieces if you break the thing up into several chapters, so I had to do it over again.
Oliver! was the second "big" show that Jeri and Paul did. After several Sunshine Children's Theatre productions, they both got cast in The Music Man with the Davis Art Center. Paul was cute little Winthrop, lisping his way through "Gary, Indiana" and exclaiming about his "tholid gold thing" when he got his golden trumpet. (As an opening night gift I got him a solid (faux) gold trumpet to wear on a necklace). Jeri was Amaryllis, the little girl who takes piano lessons from Marian the Librarian. I tried to get her an amaryllis for an opening night gift, but the show was a summer show and the amaryllis is a winter flower and I wasn't able to find one.
But the second "big" show they did was Oliver! It was actually a family show and the only reason Ned wasn't in it was because he was in Brasil at the time. Paul had the title role. Jeri was Bette, the young girl who accompanies "Nancy" around (for no apparent reason other than to have parts in musical numbers, I think!). Tom and David were both orphans in the opening number and, for one performance, Walt played the doctor in Act II. I did an entry about that show back in 2002.
Watching the videotape, as I made the DVD, brought back all sorts of memories. Like having our friends, an acting family, come to see the show and having the woman say "your choreographer is insane!"
It was the first show this woman had choreographed and somehow she figured that "choreography" meant that every word or phrase had a movement with it. I suspect that she created an incredible amount of unnecessary work for herself. As I watch the video, I see what my friend meant. In some places, it's just plain crazy all the movements she had those little kids doing--but amazingly, they actually do a credible job of it. I remember the long hours of painstaking rehearsal for these little kids, age 5-12 learning dozens of intricate movements. This woman never subscribed to the "less is more" philosophy!
There were 20 orphans and the opening number ("Food, Glorious Food") is so busy you can hardly concentrate on it. Up, down, hand up, hands down, mime the words, jump up, turn around, march in place. It's overkill to the 'nth degree.
The video that I've posted for today came out of that insane choreography and makes me giggle whenever I see it.
It's "Consider Yourself," the song sung by Oliver and the Artful Dodger, when they first meet. The set was wonderful (Walt built it) and contained a bridge connected by two long staircases which curved down to the stage. The choreographer had Paul and his friend Kag singing and running up and down those steps. Great training if you're going to be an Olympic sprinter!
But the thing that tickles me about this video is that it happened to be taken the day that the two kids cracked up. As Kag introduces himself, he did something he hadn't done before. He says "I'm...the Artful Dodger," and as he says that, he taps the top of his hat. For some reason this made Paul giggle and then the two of them started giggling. They finished the long song, but trying desperately to stop laughing the whole time.
At one point, they have walked/danced/run to the top of the stairs and at the top of the stairs was an "old woman" (actually a young-ish woman, mother to one of their friends, who was quite friendly with the kids). She caught the giggles from the two of them.
I remember sitting in the audience that night just praying for them to finish the damn song and get off stage. But looking at it this many years later, it's really fun to watch.
I also loved to go into the theatre each night to see Paul sing "Where is Love." He definitely did not have the voice for it and anybody reviewing him would not give him a positive review, but from a mother's perspective, seeing this little kid sitting all alone on the stage, with a pinspot on his face, croaking out this song just touched my heart each night.
My other favorite moment (tomorrow's video) was a song called "I'd Do Anything..." It's when The Artful Dodger and Nancy are trying to teach Oliver how to behave in polite society. They show him and then everybody encourages Oliver to practice with Bette. It still makes me all misty-eyed to see Paul and Jeri dancing together.
Oliver! was not the world's greatest production, but for a local amateur production it wasn't that bad. lin McElroy, who directed the production moved out of town and doesn't seem to remember that she ever was interested in theatre, though her work with kids and theatre had a major impact on our kids' lives. Larry B. Ayo, who played Fagin died a few years ago. He was a terrific actor (David later was in a production of Camelot in which Larry played King Arthur) and his death was a great loss to whichever community he was living in at the time.
We had a wonderful stretch of time, doing theatre in Davis. I don't know if the kids remember it as fondly as I do, but I sure do remember it very fondly.
Even if the choreography was insane.
Please be sure to read Steve's
entry about the Catholic church and condom use.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
The day Walt stepped in as the doctor