by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 17, 2014

Gabby Hayes. That’s what Charles “Bunky” Boyd called me after seeing me sporting my new beard. I don’t shave on holiday, so it grows unaided and unimpeded. I would much rather he had said “Sean Connery” … but, at 67, we take what we can get.

Bunky appeared in Showboat, playing the Paul Robeson role. He brought down the house every night with “Ol’ Man River.” He was also Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, a show which we will be remounting this summer. I wish we had him again for it, but now he has more important fish to fry, as senior pastor at Lester’s Chapel Baptist Church. He always has a kind word (“Gabby Hayes” notwithstanding) for everyone he sees or knows. I envy that quality myself. It is one which many called to the cloth have.

I took a busman’s holiday and went to the theatre to see Leading Ladies, a silly comedy which featured Brandon Beach, an actor who will be coming for our annual Shakespeare production, this year’s Much Ado About Nothing. I was so pleased to see that he had mentioned in his bio the Roxy as his next acting gig. It’s the little things in life …

The winter is a struggle after all of the holiday hoopla. The sun is down, and the prospect of snow (and the cancellation of shows caused by it) hangs over my head like the dark cloud in Hamlet. A mid-winter birthday cuts the winter by a third, and our “Martinis with Frank” on February 14 (tickets $50, including drinks, heavy hors d’oeuvres and the Frank Sinatra musical My Way) gets us two-thirds of the way through. Groundhog Day followed closely by the Ides of March signals the end of snow. But, speaking of the Ides of March, we once had to cancel a Julius Caesar public performance due to snow as late as March.

Having some good points to make, I feel, is golden in a production and many times is the prime reason for producing a play or musical. Hans Christian Andersen says, “Eat your vegetables; they are good for you,” and someone says, “Good children put their toys away when they are finished playing with them.” And the stories — “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Swineherd,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” “The Little Match Girl” and “The Ugly Duckling” — all have an almost Aesop’s Fables-like message. I most like “The Ugly Duckling” and its theme of bullying.

Michelle Foletta and Leslie Greene could not be more fun to work with — true friends and talented actresses willing to try anything to make this adaptation work, while doing double-duty upstairs in theotherspace with supporting fellow actress Adriane Wiley-Hatfield in The Vagina Monologues.

Tales of Hans Christian Andersen plays daytimes for school field trips and public performances at 2pm on Saturdays through February 8. The Vagina Monologues continues on Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and 8pm through February 1.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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