SOUTH PACIFIC, Showers and The Schermerhorn

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on July 19, 2013

When Alicia Kelly washes that man right out of her hair in our production of South Pacific, she literally does it — onstage in front of an audience.

Mary Martin did it with a bar of Ivory soap eight times a week, two shows on Wednesday and Saturday, and soon she was finding out that she was losing her hair from washing it so much.

When you see production photos from that show, Miss Mary has extremely short hair, almost boyish. The song “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” stayed, but the soap didn’t. She switched to Prell — more suds for the buck and easier on her hair. Sales for Prell went right through the roof, just as men’s undershirts’ sales dropped after Clark Gable took off his shirt in It Happened One Night and underneath he wasn’t wearing one.

David Boen was in town just long enough to coerce friend Barry Kitterman to help him devise the shower mechanism for our production of South Pacific. It’s a galvanized bucket which is tipped by pulling a hemp rope attached to a small wooden canoe paddle. The bucket pours its contents into a galvanized washtub with twenty-plus small nail holes punched into the bottom, which produces a unique shower effect onto our leading lady’s head.

Before David began work, he wanted to know if a local native boy had jerry-rigged the shower, or if it had been engineered by one of the sailors. I said the latter, which then gave it a Rube Goldberg-esque quality.

So the Schermerhorn was saved! Martha Ingram pulled the fat out of the fire … again.

We need a Martha Ingram or a Nadia von Meck to make this center a go. There are those in our community who could just write the check. No feasibility studies needed — just do it.

But they would have to see a child who attends a play and picks up a book afterward, and understand the value of that simple act. Mamie Jean Harper understood our efforts, and so do all of those children in the Parks & Rec program. It needn’t be an ulterior motive and can simply be the right thing to do — for, as hard as you might want to, you can’t take it with you.

The Ryman hasn’t gone belly-up because it has something on its stage every night. Us, too. The Schermerhorn appears to tout only four or five events per month. Broadway’s payback requires eight shows a week, at least 32-plus each month. Until one realizes it is more cost-effective to keep the heat or air on and bottoms in seats, nothing can succeed.

South Pacific continues through August 17, playing Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee tomorrow. Tomorrow at 6:30pm is our pre-show cookout under the marquee, with hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixin’s. Tickets are $40 (adults) and $25 (ages 13 and under), including the 8pm show.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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