One thing that I have not mentioned on here is what Bryan and I have been working on after hours. When Laughter on the 23rd Floor was chosen for this season’s slate but no one wanted to direct it, Bryan mentioned that he might be interested. He liked Neil Simon, having directed The Odd Couple in college, and maybe it would be fun. With my urging, he finally decided to go for it.
After auditions, he felt he was lacking a character: a female. This character was callous, bitchy, hard, quick-witted, crass, and seriously pregnant for a scene (and pissed about it). Um, sound like anyone you know? I raised my hand several times, trying to volunteer for the show, and Bryan would always sidestep it. “You have a baby,” he’d say. (Cause, you know, it’s only mine.) We can arrange babysitters, I’d say. “It’s just too hard,” he’d say. So he held special auditions. Sent out numerous requests for character actresses. And came up empty handed.
After a week of this, I just KNEW that he was gonna ask me, so I prodded: “SO.. who ya gonna cast now?”
He said, “I guess I’ll have to wander the aisles of Target and see who can walk upright.”
OH HELLS TO THE NO HE DIDN’T BUT OH YES HE DID.
Anyway, so a day or two after that, he asked me to accept the part. I told him I’d get back to him after I read the script. I couldn’t just JUMP into that kind of committment, I teased. I DO have a baby to think of, after all.
So there we were. Him directing, me acting, and both of us stressed to the max. Then the cast underwent MORE changes.. so-and-so has overwhelming conflicts, so-and-so needs to drop out, can so-and-so read the script and see if they can rearrange their lives to do the show?
“It’s okay,” I reassured Bryan nightly. “It’s the magic of theatre. It will all come together.”
And you know what? It did. OH JESUS GOD, did it ever. We got the DREAM cast.
I, personally, was in heaven. I may as well have died and gone to heaven. I had grown up watching most of these people on stage and idolizing them. It was a dream of mine to do shows with most of this cast since Jeebus was a baby. And to do a show with them? THIS show, where I am one of two women in a sea of FUNNY FUNNY men? And where the other lady is just as amazing? IT MIGHT AS WELL BE CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON.
And as we rehearsed, the cast just clicked. Nine cast members, all with monumental egos and talents even larger, began to realize that we were in this amazing realm. You know that one guy who is a half-second faster than you at one-liners? And everyone is always struggling to beat his zingers? Yeah, this room? NINE OF THEM.
As the show progressed, we gelled in a way that casts rarely do. Our favorite part of rehearsals were always when Bryan gave out the director’s notes: we would all lie in wait, ready to jump in with our one-liners, and by the end of it, we were all crying from the laughter. The energy is amazing, it never gets stale..
.. and quite frankly, I will miss it TERRIBLY once we’re done.
But this weekend, we opened the show. We had lackluster audiences, due to our INSANE GAS SPIKE around here, but the audiences we did have were extremely receptive. And we’re all hams at heart, so the more reaction we got, the more we’d cheese it up. SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME. It’s much like watching “Whose Line is It, Anyway?” and praying one of them would crack.. we tickle eachother far more than anything in the script, and each of us has a poke when someone screws up.
I think we brought something to theatre this weekend that is often missing. It’s a fairly light-hearted show, with no villain to speak of, lots of laughs (both cheap and high-brow), and plenty of f-bombs. You can’t ask for more.
As a woman who so often suffers from baby-brain and constantly feels like her humor was left laying in the delivery room floor among the afterbirth, this show reaffirmed that maybe I am still a fairly sharp blade.
Or, at the very least, a spork.
Laughter on the 23rd Floor by Neil Simon
Presented by Theatre Huntsville
Directed by Bryan Comer, Assisted by Nina Soden
Von Braun Center Playhouse
Sept. 18, 19, & 20 7:30
Sept. 20 2:30
We’d love to see you there.