APSU Opera’s BEN AND THE VIRTUES Opens This Weekend, April 15 – 17

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on April 15, 2011

The Roxy lobby is in chaos … actors running lines … ticket buyers buying tickets … boxes of costumes for The Civil War arriving by UPS … music being prepared for “Mint Juleps and Gershwin at High Meadow” … RSVPs delivered by post.

I leave this space and its lack of serenity to enter another kind of chaos — rehearsals for Ben and the Virtues with the APSU Opera — more academic but equally as magical, young things learning all that can be culled from consummate professionals the likes of George Mabry, Lisa Conklin-Bishop, Richard Gildrie and Anne Glass. There is an age when we think we know it all … these young, talented hopefuls have not yet reached that place of unleveled quicksand.

I keep a low profile. And it is possible if I avoid the mirrored wall which surrounds the rehearsal space, for it reflects a perfect image of my grandfather, surrounded by all my colleagues from drama school in the ‘60s. I am the eldest in the room. I have no Jay Doolittle nor Ashton Crosby to nominate as senior actor; I am he. Wisdom like mine is to be learned. It cannot be taught nor given out like bon bons, for by our failures we are better for it (or so I am led to believe). So I believe.

There is a line in Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons concerning age: “… at twenty-one or twenty-two, so many things appear solid and permanent and terrible, which forty sees are nothing but disappearing miasma. Forty can’t tell twenty about this. Twenty can find out only by getting to be forty.” You must live and learn, and we all do it at our own pace with a great deal of help from others.

I was rehearsing a scene the other day around a table and a number of benches. As we played the scene, students carted off furniture, bit by bit. My retort was, “Who I am working with, the Santini Brothers?” No laugh came. I guess nobody knew them as I did, a great and long line of movers called Santini.

Ben and the Virtues plays in Austin Peay’s Mass Communication Concert Hall this Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16, at 7:30pm, with a matinee on Sunday, April 17, at 3pm. This raucous light opera by two beloved Austin Peay professors, George Mabry and Richard Gildrie, tells the story of a young Benjamin Franklin and his friends, real and imaginary, who meet regularly at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern to eat, drink, and explore the perplexities and joys of life. It is a splendid way to see the best of APSU in action. For years I’ve made the APSU spring opera matinee one of my Sunday outings, and I’ve never been disappointed. And I know you won’t be this year either.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

Previous post:

Next post: