Birthdays Get Better If You’re Cast

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 28, 2011

“When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now …
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.”

– Paul McCartney / John Lennon

I’ve at last become a Beatles song.  And now, at 64, I’m cast, I cannot say sight unseen, because I’ve attended APSU’s Sunday opera matinees for some time.  But this year, I’ll be in it.  Alas, no one will have to hear me sing.  I’m hearing sighs of relief , thank you very much.

Dr. Richard Gildrie and Dr. George Mabry have fashioned a musical piece, a kind of pastiche of composers who wrote during the 18th century.  The musical springs from a play, Ben and the Virtues, which was performed here at the Roxy as a staged reading directed by Richard’s daughter and Roxy protégé, colleague and now professional actress, Evy Gildrie-Voyles.

The first rehearsal was an absolute joy: young students, excited as I was to be included, eager to please, energy-filled with talents bubbling over.  Lisa Conklin-Bishop, who has masterminded the opera performances, gave her welcome speech, one which I wish I had annotated as it was the epitome of all good beginnings to all good productions ever given: welcome, hard work ahead, and a journey of adventure.   There is no way to describe the sheer bliss of being an instrument of two creative geniuses.

This will not be my operatic debut, oh no.  I made mine in 1963 in Rigoletto.  No reviews for my performance, but I, along with my dear friend now Monsignor Edwin Creary, appeared on the cover of the Memphis Commercial Appeal carrying fake torches and doffed with blond curly wigs and baggy tights.  We are but background for John Alexander, who was the star of the evening.

I made my New York Metropolitan debut in Il Trovatore.  Talk about unsung heroes.  A half-dozen of us, black-robed and hooded, candles in hand, slowly walked across that vast stage as if we had just sung the chorus of “Miserere.”

So, another debut awaits me.

The irony of “ain’t” in Ain’t Misbehavin’ does not go unnoticed, as we tout the importance of reading when presenting Once Upon A Time, which plays Saturday afternoons at 2pm through February 12.  On Saturday, February 12, at 6:30pm, martinis and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be offered as part of “Martinis with Fats,” our Valentine’s fundraiser for the new center for arts and education.  This is our sixth year to present a “Martinis with …” event.

Adult acting classes continue on Tuesday nights from 6:30pm until 8:30pm.  Cost is $25 per class.  All interested would-be’s are welcome.  Susan Bryant supervises a yoga hour on Tuesday as well, from 5:30pm until 6:30pm.  Cost is $10 per class.  I took it last week and felt great afterward.  Travis Kendrick teaches dance for the musical theatre from noon until 1:30pm on Saturdays right after the Saturday class.  Cost is $10 per class.

See you at the theatre!

– John McDonald

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