Bailey Hanks Opens “9 to 5” This Friday at 8pm for Pay-What-You-Can

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on September 14, 2012

“The show must go on” is an axiom we in the theatre have touted since time immemorial. However, I now think it should read “a show must go on,” for that’s what happened at the final Friday night performance of Happy Days. The theatre, along with a large portion of Clarksville, lost power. No power, no show — not quite!

Just into the opening number of Happy Days, all went black and up flashed the emergency lights (thank you, Jim Grubb, for recently checking them out and putting in new batteries).

Charles and Faye Hand, along with Budweiser of Clarksville, had spearheaded this buy-out performance for Clarksville High’s Class of ’57 Reunion. One wants all performances to be perfect, but most especially for this performance, since the Hand Family and Budweiser of Clarksville have always supported this theatre at the drop of a cap. So a lot was at stake.

With no power, my partner Tom went into high gear. He is firebrand when it comes to managing a snafu. The ol’ upright piano was rolled out, lumieres were lit and placed at the edge of the stage to replicate old-fashioned footlights, and the well-schooled interns used flashlights as follow spots.

As luck would have it, the cast had recently presented a highly successful (and sold-out) ‘50s musical revue as part of the Roxy’s “On The Terrazzo” series. And as God would have it, the assorted sheet music was still on the piano. So without skipping much of a beat, a show went on. It wasn’t the show, but it was a show, and it went on.

At the Metropolitan Opera, Madame Zinka Milanov’s signature role had always been Tosca, but a new production of Tosca had been mounted for Madame Renata Tebaldi, much to Madame Milanov’s chagrin. One evening, Madame Tebaldi was to sing Aida, but she was indisposed. The Met staff contacted Madame Milanov and asked if she would be so kind as to sing Aida for Madame Tebaldi that night. “No!” replied Madame Milanov, “But I would sing Tosca for Tebaldi.” The performance that evening was switched.

Verdi’s Aida has many chorus numbers and a triumphal march with scads of supernumeraries, while Puccini’s Tosca has one chorus and is set in 1800’s Italy. Can you imagine the chaos? Sets, costumes, wigs, props and other cast members all switched. At that time, sets were stored in Brooklyn, and costumes in Queens. Trucks scoured from borough to borough so a show could go on. Such is the theatre.

The Class of ’57 had an unforgettable evening at the Roxy, especially since it wasn’t the performance they had expected. Such is the theatre. Such is life.

Tonight is the pay-what-you-can preview 9 to 5: The Musical, starring Broadway and MTV star Bailey Hanks. Tomorrow’s 30th Anniversary Gala is sold-out, but “Frolic on Franklin: A Celebration of the Arts,” a free all-day affair, will be showcasing local art, music and demonstrations from 9am until 4pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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