Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Vampire or: He Loved in Vein

Ouch.  And it only got worse.  If puns make you ill, feel free to come back tomorrow.  For the rest of you, there's a treat in store.

The Gaslight Theater has been in Tucson for 32 years.  It's a measure of the wonder that is Gaslight that I remembered details from the History section of the program.  Apparently, a group of friends from UofA went to Alaska in 1977, lasted one summer having  produced one show, came back to Tucson and never left.  The whole thing felt like a family affair; the Kitchen Staff is listed in the program alongside the Costume Designers and the Controller and the Board of Directors.  Our server began her career there when she was 16..... as did one or two of the patrons that afternoon.  It's one of those 1890's Wild West Saloon-type places, those over-the-top tourist attractions with a 3-man-band, sing-alongs and free popcorn on the table when you sit down.  It felt like a frontier cocktail lounge.

If you are planning to see the show, which closes November 6, I'm warning you now that there are spoilers ahead.  I don't think it will make a difference - most of the jokes are groaners - but I feel an obligation to alert those who might be annoyed.

So, did you ever see a show where the wigs were characters of their own?  Have you ever watched hair dancing?  Wondered if an actress had a particularly small head since her wigs and she were in a constant battle against gravity?  G'ma and I did last weekend.  Shirley Smith, the Wigs person,  likes hair, I guess.  Lots and lots of hair.  There are looooooong yellow braids and gigantic black and white beehives and this brown thing which with Miss Minna argues.  And argues.  And argues.  The best part was that the wig kept fighting back.  I don't know, maybe you had to be there.  Suffice it to say that if my goal for G'ma is No Unhappy Days  I now have about a month in reserve.  Her whole body shakes when she laughs and thinks no one is watching her.  My heart was bursting.

But, back to the show.  I never knew that there were so many ways to faint.  Sideways, backwards, left and right and each one was funnier than the next.  The entrances were funnier than the exits .... just ask the actors who were laughing as hard as we were.  Do you remember Tim Conway and Carol Burnett? 


Like that, and we were right there, booing and clapping and generally forgetting our troubles.  They tangoed and polka'd and we watched a skeleton do the Macarena, a word which was easily replaced with Nosferatu in the lyrics.... and since those lyrics consist mainly of one word being repeated over and over ad nauseum slowly but surely a room full of strangers were singing in 4 part harmony, on-key, and with enthusiasm.  Well, okay, maybe just with enthusiasm but we sure did feel good about ourselves.

Olio is a great cross-word puzzle and scrabble word but until the Gaslight Gazette I'd never seen it anywhere other than on those grids.  But, there it was, right after Act II, with Wolfman Jack and his hair introducing Tom Jones and the Addams Family and some girl groups from the 1960's singing - now, remember this show is about a vampire -  
And then he kissed me.....He kissed me in a way that I'd never been kissed before 

and we groaned, but not as loudly as during Love is Strange or Count Dracula (Todd Thompson)'s stirring rendition of I'm Too Sexy for My Cape.  It was awful and wonderful at the same time.

I'd be remiss if I didn't single out for recognition and applause and kudos and amazings and look at those fingers ..... Linda Ackerman pounded the keyboards of her upright piano and electric keyboard and I will never hear Werewolf of London


in quite the same way ever again.  This was really much more than dinner theater music, denizens. 

A few weeks ago, Amster took Messers 7 and 5 to the show, and she could hardly wait for me to see it so she could share.  We kept ourselves giggling as we were lifting at the gym on Saturday.  It kept us happy all morning long, and I was humming and singing and dancing across my living room, sliding on the slippery smooth tiles all afternoon.

I'm not sure there's a higher compliment that can be paid to The Vampire than this one:  it was fun!
*****

G'ma and I were at the Gaslight Theater as part of a benefit for the Southern Arizona Support Group of the Scleroderma Foundation thanks to my Pilates Pal Pat's invitation.  Don't you love it when your friends turn you on to something new and fabulous along with the chance to do good? 

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