Words, Words, Words…

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 20, 2012

Our season is cutting-edge, and of that I am very proud. However, with that comes obstacles.

I’ve yet to understand the problem with “The Bremen Town Musicians,” which is a featured story in our production of Happily Ever After, along with “The Elves and The Shoemaker,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Hare and Hedgehog” and “Snow White.” What’s the issue with “The Bremen Town Musicians”? Animals forming a band? Wasn’t that what the ‘70s were about? Or is it words? The common forms for donkey, rooster, female dog and cat — could that be the issue? These words are not used in our text.

I remember a time not so long ago when the word cancer was said in a whisper, as if saying it caused it. I was offended by TPAC’s reaction to the touring production of Spring Awakening, telling an audience via a full-page ad in The Tennessean not to come and see it. I had no intention of going to see it myself, but then I saw the ad and went (don’t tell this stubborn Irishman “don’t,” “won’t” or “can’t”). The play is from the 1840s, now turned into a musical. I was blown away …words with a message. And, of course, when we present Spring Awakening this April/May, we will have a disclaimer at the box office door and on the poster.

In 1984, we presented the Pulitzer Prize award-winning play The Shadow Box, which contained the “f-word.” It was used as the proverbial 2×4 across the mule’s head. After it was said, the message following was one of such clarity and importance that I felt this 2×4 was necessary, so I left it in. I go a bit mad when someone messes with my words, so …

A woman once said to me, “It’s okay on TV — you are at home. But to go out in public — that’s a different story.” Perhaps for hypocrites. But when you kill the messenger, you miss the message. What I am saying is basically “sticks and stones …” or, as Shakespeare so adeptly puts it in Hamlet, “words, words, words …”

One is always pleased and delighted when someone compliments your work or, better yet, recognizes you outside of the confines of character, costume and theatre. Last holiday, while sitting at the Green Parrot, a locals’ hangout in Key West, with longtime friends Maureen and Tim Harvey, a perfect stranger came over to our table — a Roxy Christmas Carol poster in hand, no less — complimenting me on my performance while proffering the poster and asking me to autograph it. This is a true story — just ask the Harveys.

Happily Ever After continues to delight children, parents and grandparents on Saturdays at 2pm through February 11. Jill Eichhorn, Austin Peay State University professor of women’s studies, joins Ashley Laverty and Adrian Wiley-Hatfield in this week’s rendition of The Vagina Monologues, playing tonight (Friday) and Saturday at 8pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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