Tag Archives: Annie

“Oh, for the Love of – !”

I’ve been getting a lot of comments, shocked looks and awkward questions about my hair lately. For the past 25 years or so I’ve worn your basic clean cut, short cropped look. People get used to seeing you a certain way. I think its especially true of guys who tend to find the look that works (e.g. the woman likes it), takes the least amount of maintenance, and then sticks with it.

A year and a half ago I stunned people by shaving my head for the part of Daddy Warbucks. Clients started asking if I was sick, and people marveled that I was willing to do it. I have to admit that the natural ham in me had a blast with it. I even got a lot of compliments on the shape of my head, thank you very much. At least I know that if I must sport the bald look someday, I can effectively pull it off.

Mug shot of John Dillinger
Mug shot of John Dillinger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, later this month I’m playing a 30’s era gangster (Lawrence “Guts” Regan) in Ayn Rand’s “Night of January 16th.” I’ve been growing my hair out and giving it some color so that I can pull off a John Dillinger style cut for the show. In order to attempt it, I first have to get it longer – a lot longer. So, I’m getting a lot of strange looks and laughs from family and friends who’ve never seen me try to pull off the long hair thing. I’m using “product” I did not know existed, and I’ve become very attached to hats. I was even told last night that with my generally out of control locks I look like my son-in-law, Clayton (who ironically just cropped his hair short a week ago like I normally wear it).

I’ve been working on an article for our local paper and was reminded the other night about the root of the word “amateur” which basically means one who does something for the love or pleasure of doing it. That’s the funny thing about doing community theatre. You’re a rank amateur. There’s no money in it. There’s no fame. There’s no glory. You do it for the love of it. You do it for kicks and grins and giggles. You do it because you have fun doing it and it fills your Life tank.

My mother is, I’m sure, hoping that “Hair” doesn’t make it on the schedule next year.

Hair (musical)
Hair (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Luke 19

“He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.” Luke 19:26 (MSG)

When you shave your head, you get all sorts of reactions. I had co-workers who fielded calls from clients wondering if I had cancer. When I would explain to inquiring acquaintences that I shaved my head to play Daddy Warbucks in a community theatre production of Annieit was common to receive looks of bewilderment. Clearly, some people thought I was crazy. 

People were surprised at my willingness to shave my hair off for a part in a play, and I suppose that it seems drastic to some. While I admit that the first swipe with the electric clippers required a deep breath, it really wasn’t a huge deal for me. First, I knew the hair would grow back quickly. Second, being bald was a great marketing tool because it created a buzz, was a conversation starter, and got people talking about the show. Most of all, however, I was really committed to playing the part well – and everyone knows Daddy Warbucks is bald. For me, the risk was small, the yield was great in its context.

Accomplishments, both small and large, involve risk. Faith itself is a risk. Acts of faith are riskier still. Jesus constantly rewarded those who stepped out in faith without being asked, and he constantly called out those who played it safe.

What are you willing to risk?

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An Actor’s Nightmare (Almost)

This was originally posted at www.unionstreetplayers.com.

I’ve written before about the very real phenomenon called an “actor’s nightmare.” It’s when you dream that someone grabs you in a panic and reminds you that you’re on. Suddenly you remember that you were cast in a play but you can’t remember what the play was, what role you’re playing, nor can you remember studying any of your lines. You are then thrust onto the stage as everyone looks at you waiting for you to deliver your line. If it’s a true actor’s nightmare you’ll realize at this point that you’re standing in your underwear.

During last night’s performance of Annie, I came close to experiencing a variation on an actor’s nightmare. In the second act, just before the grand finale, I run off stage for a costume change. I have to get out of my suit and into my tuxedo in 90 seconds. My wife Wendy is there waiting to help and we have the whole process down to a well rehearsed quick change.

Last night I made my sprint off stage and down the steps to the clothes racks in the back hallway. It was then that the actor’s nightmare set in. There was no tuxedo. There was no Wendy. In that moment, I realized I’d forgotten to set my tux backstage before the show. There are no adequate words to describe the sheer panic that sets in this moment of time, though ”terror” comes close (after a Warbucks-esque expletive).

Where’s Wendy? Did she forget, too?
Is she getting my tux?
Should I sprint for the dressing room? (No way. Not enough time.)
Should I just go on in my current costume? (Not an option, I’d peeled of my bow-tie as I ran off and it would take me more than 90 seconds to re-tie it)

In that moment, a dark, frizzy-haired figure came sprinting around the corner with a bulky bundle in hand. For you movie buffs, Joan Cusack‘s frantic run in the film Broadcast News flitted through my brain at that moment. Wendy dumped my tux on the floor and we began throwing on the pieces. My ears were perked to the song on stage. We were running out of time. Vest on. Button. Button. Button. Hurry Coat on.

Where’s the bow tie?” I hear Wendy whisper. “I CAN’T FIND THE TIE!”

“I don’t know!! It was with the tux in the dressing room (back by the auditorium entrance)!!” I replied

“THERE’S NO BOW TIE!” she repeated. “Are you off stage again?” she asked.

“No,” I said, “Wait – YES! I have a few seconds off stage before the final scene!”

“I’ll get it!” Wendy exclaimed in a whisper.

I resigned myself. For now, I’ll have to go on stage in a tux without a bow tie. Warbucks will be a casual kind of formal tonight. We have no choice. Wendy sprinted off as I marched up the steps to the back stage door and remembered to tie my shoes.

I don’t know how she did it, but Wendy made a sprint worthy of Usain Bolt back to the dressing room. Just as the moment for my entrance arrived, she ran through the back stage entrance with my bow tie in hand. Fortunately, it was the kind that clips on. I was fully aware that everyone on stage was wondering where in the world I was as Wendy anxiously tried to get the tie hooked.

“THERE!” she cried.

I sprinted on stage before Wendy had a chance to straighten it. It was about four inches left of center. Think. How am I going to fix it? Fortunately, my first line is to direct everyone’s attention to the staircase where Annie emerges in her iconic red dress and curly hair. I simply turned my back to the audience raised my hand to the grand staircase and delivered my line. Knowing that everyone was looking for Annie, I reached up and yanked my tie in place.

Whew. Major crisis averted. Focus now.

I owe Wendy big-time (and she knows it).

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 12

“Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch!” Luke 12:35-36 (MSG)

It’s interesting how God’s message meets us right where we are. It gets filtered through the lens of our momentary circumstances, and sheds light on the exact place we need illumination. There’s a certain synchronicity to it. Sometimes God’s Message joins with disparate threads of our life, and weaves together important life lessons.

This week has, obviously, been focused on the opening of Annie. As I read Jesus’ example of the house servants being awake and ready for the arrival of their master, I couldn’t help but think of my first entrance in the show tonight.

With his opening entrance, Warbucks enters his mansion after being away on a six-week trip. His servants bustle about having everything ready, anticipating his arrival. There is sense of anxiety, preparation, and excitement in the air as they worry about having everything ready.

The season of Christmas is known as Advent, which literally means “arrival” or “coming.” This past Sunday in worship the message was about preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus. How would our thoughts, words, and actions change if we knew that Jesus was literally returning on the eve of December 24th, 2010?

Today, Jesus weaves different thoughts from my week into one strand, reminding me to be mindful of what Christmas is really about: the arrival of the Master. Christmas is more than goodies and presents and even more than family and friends. Christmas is when the Master arrives.

I want to be prepared.

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 11

“No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.” Luke 11:33-36 (MSG)

This week I am a grown adult playing a child’s game of dress up and make-believe. Having shaved my head, I will put on a costume and pretend I am a wealthy, 20th century industrialist living on 5th Avenue in New York City. I am quite certain that some people think I’m silly, but for me it is about living wide-eyed in wonder and belief.

While I enjoy the stage for the fun and camaraderie, it is more than just an amusement to me. Acting helps me maintain a child-like wonder and playfulness about life. As I research a character I am digging deeper into the human condition, gaining greater empathy for others, and acquiring a more thorough understanding of my own humanity. In Oliver Warbucks I’ve learned a little more about greed, lonliness, isolation, loss, drive, and ambition. Most of all, Oliver has spoken to me about redemption. Warbucks is the incarnation of Jesus’ teaching about gaining the whole world at the risk of losing your own soul. The two and a half hours of Annie has become, for me, the story of Oliver’s journey from the darkness of isolation to the light of love. That story is simply a reflection of the great story, of God’s story, of the Christmas story.

In two weeks the show will be over, but I know from experience that these few months of wide-eyed wonder and the willing suspension of disbelief will have made my own life a little less murky.

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I Haven’t Been Bald Since High School

I’ve been relatively bald twice in my life. First, when I was born (though there was some hair there). Then, when I was a swimmer in high school, I shaved my head for the conference and district swim meets. I haven’t been bald since.

Is the third time coming?

Last night I auditioned for the role of Daddy Warbucks in USP’s production of “Annie.” There were a ton of people at auditions. More than I expected and a lot more men than I expected, which was great for USP.

It’s always hard to tell how you do at auditions. I felt pretty good about it. I haven’t been in a musical since “The Christmas Post” in 2006, and singing always makes me nervous. But, what a fun show to be in if it works out.

Call backs are Thursday. I’m sure we’ll find out next weekend or early next week.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and toddhiestand