Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ocassionally possessed, or the story of Beverly

This is both the answer to "How I got my Equity card...", (which I was too shy to post on the 100th Anniversary of the Actors' Equity Association's site) and why I craft.

One summer in my twenties I was privileged enough to get a gig performing outside of Boston at the beautiful North Shore Music Theatre. I was the newbie in the bunch; a crop of Broadway babies were taking six weeks off their real gigs in the hopes of originating a role in a hot new musical that everyone was dreaming would be picked up for the great Broad-way. Have you seen the movie Waiting for Guffman? Kinda like that, but for real. Anyways, they hired one non-union gal [ahem], and one non-union guy to pick up all the loser lines and fill in the background. Since we both had amazing vocal ranges [ahem] I kinda suspected they were keeping us on task in case any of the leads went sour. Just suspecting, gosh! Don't rain on my parade.

Anywho, I tell you this backstory to illustrate my standing in this parade. That would be, pretty much last. But it was a coup to get the gig, so I was awestruck every moment. I particularly took a shine to my housemates, which were a bunch of guys, [cuz again, I was low woman on the totem pole, so the fancy gals took the new house and I got stuck with the guys in the old cast house.] [um, sharing a house with a bunch of talented Broadway types who play darts every night and gladly give up the best bathroom in the house? SIGN ME UP.] My particular fave was our union rep. He was clearly built for mentoring newbies like myself. Always answering silly questions. Always quoting rules and regulations. Leading the charge for a meeting when the A/C went out in the house [you mean we don't have to sweat our a$$es off when we're union? SIGN ME UP.] A real sweetie. In fact, he did encourage me to ask the Director of the Theatre for my Equity card at the end of the run, and I got it. I GOT IT. [Hallelujah.]

Beverly, Massachusetts is a gorgeous place. There is a breeze. Is it on the coast? I wouldn't know; I didn't get out much. Actually that's not true--we went on a whale watch from Salem on our day off, so yes, it must be on the coast...as you can see, I had my head up my arse. So I tell you this part to explain why I slept with the windows open. Gorgeous breeze.

We shared one car in the guy house. In the span of six weeks, I got it to myself for an afternoon...ONCE. I took that afternoon to head straight to the craft store. I know, I'm a winner. I had this strange idea that I would make a doll of our rep's character in the show. Needed checkered black fabric for his pants. Already had needle and thread in my tolietries.

So I also had to steal some time to hit the toy store and buy the actual doll that would act as the base...here's the funny part...he's Asian-American, and at the time Jackie Chan dolls action figures were on trend, so no brainer. He's already wearing black shoes. Fab. At the toy store I also hit the doll house section to buy mini versions of a whisk and fork and spoons. This was a show based on a children's story, and his character was a chef, so he had forks & spoons as the buttons on his chef's coat, and a whisk sticking out of his chef's hat.

Back to grocery store for a small wooden spoon, because his character also carried a larger-than-life sized spoon on stage, and lo and behold, the Jackie Chan figure was in a stance of holding a large pole-like object, so I slipped the spoon right in.

Arrived back at the guy house an hour later than planned; only one guy was steaming. Threw him the keys on my way in, no explanation needed. Prob thought I was doing girl stuff. If only. Well, kinda.

The next morning I hit the costume department to ask for some of the thick white chef's fabric. "Do you have any cuttings?" Strange looks. "Making something for ..." some other task rushes in the room,  lets me off the hook.

That night was one of the strangest nights of my life. I couldn't sleep. The breeze was blowing so hard my curtains were near against the ceiling. I started laughing and I. couldn't. stop. I was lying in the center of my bed, sewing a mini costume for a Jackie Chan action figure and I. couldn't. stop. CRYING from laughing so much. I had to get it done. It was midnight...then 1 am...then 2 am...isn't opening night tomorrow night? What am I thinking? This is just too fun. And too FUNNY! Everyone is just going to get a kick out of THIS. Gotta finish.

As I place the figure... in his stance, holding wooden spoon to boot, including mini-whisk sewn into top of mini-chef's hat and perfectly positioned so that it stands just as it does on friend's head in the show, also alternating mini forks and spoons as buttons down the breast of his mini-chef's coat, sewn from the same fabric as his costume...on his dressing room table, I laugh again. I get an inspiration. A little rhyme, that not only mysteriously alludes to the mini figurine, but also references one of the show's lyrics in a tongue-in-cheek manner, occurs to me. I scribble it on a piece of paper and place it under Jackie Chan. And sorry folks, I cannot for the life of me remember what the rhyme was. Something that ended with "And he didn't even notice that his spoon got bigger."

Throughout the show that night, opening jitters abounded, and I see my friend whispering around. I giggle every time I see him on the sidelines chatting with other cast-members. For sure, he knows it was me. FOR SURE, everyone saw me place it on his table right before open. OBVIOUSLY, I made him this little figure as a joke and it is extremely. hilarious. No question in my mind. I was not really keeping it a secret; it just so happened that it happened within 24 hours of open.

My friend, finally, post-finale, comes up to me with a look of concern.
"Did you make me that figure?"
"UM, YES, I thought you would know immediately!!" Like duh! Ha-ha-ha!
He is not laughing.
"I have a woman. A wonderful woman, who became a great fan of mine from the very start of my career on Broadway umpteen years ago. Her name is Beverly. And I have a shelf... in my apartment... of figurines she has made for me, for every character I have played, that she has seen."
"She died last year." 

I have never made a little doll and dressed it up before this incident, or since.

I am telling you NO LIE.

I was always a bit artistic, but never really crafty. I could just be getting older and more boring, but every time I start and finish a quilt in 12 hours, I'm thinking Beverly is paying me a lovely visit. I met her, after all, in Beverly, Massachusetts...

Added to post: I found the pics! Behold! Evidence...

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