I’m going to gloat, so here is thy alert.
I jumped into a summer musical, “Return To The Forbidden Planet.” The role of the mad scientist, a combination of Shakespeare, Star Trek and Spaceballs was started by a local celebrity, an entertainer, one time national spokesman for Chevrolet, and a writer of a staple Cajun Christmas song that sells every year. He wasn’t ready with a week before opening. He was sorry. Most were, but understood. It was a tough part and I was asked to fill in.
I did a telethon with this gentleman years ago and he kept calling me Larry Wyatt. I said after the third time, “It’s Larry Hyatt buddy, but at least we now know who is a bigger star.”
The best way to get me to do something is to compliment me first. That’s what the director did, possibly since we don’t do this for the money and it being community theatre it’s about entertaining you. I know the mission. It’s what I live for, being an overweight starving artist. I pulled it off and now the gloating is over.
What troubles me is a couple of the younger cast members.
In our town, as in plenty of community theatre’s summer shows, the cast is made up of theatre and music students who have gone to New York or L.A. to study, come back to perform, not remembering this is community theater, the idiots, and when the show doesn’t go exactly as planned, they meltdown.
My thought, “Boy I hope they become stars, because one day they’re going to kill themselves.” This backstage drama was going on for weeks, and understandably upsetting the cast members, creating an atmosphere that shoots the shit out of the whole reason to do this.
At first I thought this frustration was because of the embarrassment of appearing with amateurs, who do this for the love of theater, the chance for community, and the excitement of appearing on stage. Then I thought maybe, they’re getting their ass kicked in New York and they realize up there they have to hang with the cannibals, now doubting their ability.
Life’s a bitch and hanging at the bottom of the food chain should be rewarding.
I was once an entertainment director and performer in a club called Illusions. I was basically an impersonator. Not a female or Elvis impersonator, there I drew the line.
I would white my hair and sing Frank Sinatra, put on glitz and be Elton John, black my skin and become James Brown, or invent characters, all to entertain the crowd. I called it theatre in bar. It’s so original. It was once called vaudeville.
I surrounded myself with actors and actresses, dancers and comedians. I called up everyone I worked with to put on a show, the show, and my show.
I met with a few I worked with from the theatre department at Nicholls State, the local college. Most of them snubbed me. They were the elite theater people who didn’t think my stupid little barroom act was anything they wanted to get involved in. I was second rate until they realized performing is learning and not every theatre dream happens when you reach twenty-two years of age and graduate from college with a (say it through your teeth) theatre degree.
When those ass hole students did speak to me and realized that at least I had a gig, they asked to join. You know what I told them? I told them, the elite “theatre people,” I would be honored to have you join us. I can certainly use someone with your talent.” I’m not crazy. The show must go on.
I didn’t say to them that humility is a bitch but I hoped they got it. Young people don’t realize that many before them had the dream and that many before them were going to set the world on fire.
One of my favorite quotes is, “I’m not gonna stay here. I’m going to make a name for myself, I’m going to be somebody.” I hoped they did, knowing their drive. Three years later they put an ad in the paper for theatre lessons. I hope she instills humility in her students.