On the last Saturday, we had a strange audience that seemed overly reserved, unusual for a Saturday, but I was surprised by a wave of sympathy that rippled through the audience when Eugene gets pushed around at the dance just before the contest, when Miss Lynch, who officiates, says all couples should be boy-girl, and Roger says "Too bad, Eugene!" I had never felt that wave of sympathy before that last Saturday. There was a point in the show every night after the contest, when I ad libbed a line that was not in the script, to comic effect. The moment came when awards are given after the Dance Contest at the High School Hop. When Danny and Cha-Cha are presented with a trophy prepared by "Mrs. Schneider's art class", I shouted a line, sometimes, "Home Room!", or "4th Period!", or something to that effect. My ad lib line that night was "And Special Ed!" After the show, I learned that the audience had a significant number of kids with Down's Syndrome, which simultaneously explains the audience's reserve, and their sympathy for the underdog. Strange moments come when doing theater!
In my show biography, I told the story of Bob Chaney, a good friend from junior high school, high school, and early college years, but a consummate nerd - the best I ever met. Here is the story I related, in a caption below my picture, which was posted along with the rest of the cast's pictures in the lobby of the Varsity Theater in Davis:
I would like to dedicate my performance as Eugene the Nerd to my old junior high/college friend, Bob Chaney, the Prince of Nerds. Bob had all the requisite Nerd gear - checked shirt with pocket protector, thick glasses with tape on the temple, slumped shoulders. But Bob had the attitude down cold - a real inspiration, and what I try to capture with Eugene.
When Bob entered college, his grades fell sharply. Bob wouldn't write essays the way the English teachers wanted - his dream was to come up with the world's best manual for automobile repair, and so he would write - manuals. Confronted with essay demands in History class, he tried a "Comprehensive History of Automobile Repair Manuals since World War II". Bob already knew something the rest of us would learn only with the dot-com boom: there are a lot of really badly-written manuals in the world.
In our freshman year in college (New Mexico Tech - Socorro, NM - 1974), Bob had a dorm room at the east end of West Hall, which was unfortunate, because that was where the Hoovers (guess why they are called that), under the leadership of the infamous Wedge, held drunken air guitar parties all weekend long. Wedge and the Hoovers started calling Bob "Plebney", and began harassing him. Poor Bob slept in his closet, so as to avoid partiers spying through his window. One Saturday night, 'One Drunk Chick' pounded on his door shouting "I want to sleep with Plebney!" Bob opened the door, jabbed her with a pencil, and slammed the door. The Hoovers were angry, and wanting revenge, when someone realized that they themselves were ultimately at fault. Who better than Bob, they reasoned, really represented the Hoover spirit? And so Bob became, after a fashion - the Hoover's mascot! And all lived happily ever after!
The moral of this story is: Each of us has the Hoover spirit deep inside, we just express it in different ways.
In any event, here are some pictures from DMTC's recent version of "Grease" (all photos by James Stark).
"Beauty School Dropout" - Megan O'Laughlin, Lauren Miller, and Stacia Truesdale
"All Choked Up" - Amber Jean Moore (Sandy) foreground; Lauren Miller, Dena Lozano, Lauren deMitchell, and Megan Garcia (The Pink Ladies); background Danette Bell-Vassar, Megan Garcia, Rebekah Shepard, Stacia Truesdale.
"Summer Nights" - Marc Valdez (Eugene), Tommy Callahan (Sonny), Richard Kuykendall (Kenickie), David 'Turtle' Akona (Doody), James Blumer (Roger), Josue Aceves, Brian Turner (Teen Angel)
"High School Hop" - foreground: David Holmes (Danny Zuko) and Claire Lawrence (Cha-Cha deGregorio); background: Mary Young (Miss Lynch) and Arthur Vassar (Vince Fontaine).