Decide to send Jenny my Mercedes-Benz lyrics. She likes them, but says she doesn’t think the song will fit in the show anywhere. (Phew.) She does, however, ask me to have a look at the lyrics she’s written for one of the numbers.
Every panto contains a number by Miss Mara’s song and dance troupe from the local elementary school. During the read through last week, someone misread their line, saying “village people” instead of “village folk”. Much hilarity ensued. Jenny decided “YMCA” would make a good number for the kids. I do a bit of tweaking, send it back to her. She’s quite pleased.
I really need to do my homework. It is a significant challenge, given that I only have five lines to work with. Let’s see…
Write down as many adjectives as you can to describe your character: Lazy, louche, lackadaisical, relaxed, bored, uninterested, distractible, shifty, sneaky, idle, sly, crafty.
What is your character’s main objective? Getting hold of some of the cheese.
What obstacles do you need to overcome to achieve your goal? My own laziness.
What actions (verbs) can you use to help you reach your goal? Creep, sneak.
Determine if you are pleased with yourself or not. Yes, because I do manage to get some of the cheese.
Does your character have any personal dreams or desires? What? To get some cheese.
Watch out Marlon Brando, I’m ready to start method acting.
The first rehearsal. I’m not actually in any of the scenes which will be done tonight, but I go along anyway, because I want to see what the process is. Also, because I’ve been told Herb (who will now be playing Rat 1) will be there and I want to meet him.
Well, it’s certainly true that I am no longer the taller of the two rats. Herb is about six foot six. So, my distinguishing characteristic is now that I am the shorter rat. Okay, I can work with that. (As long as I still get the cheese.)
Herb reckons we need a funny handshake. No, he isn’t suggesting we join the Masons, merely that, if we’re going to get noticed at all, we’ll need some comic turns. I agree. He starts humming That’s Amore. Oh, I say, that’s still in, is it? He nods. Never mind, I say, I won’t be doing anything except backup vocals, not singing the song itself. He looks surprised. Does he know something I don’t know? Uh, oh.
The rehearsal begins. I’m blown away by Ginny (who played Scrooge in last year’s panto). She’s already turned General Scurvy into a fully blown character with his own bow-legged swagger and Thuffering Thuccotash voice. (Think John Wayne meets Sylvester.)
If everyone was as far along as Ginny, I’d be completely intimidated, but, no, she’s the star. Even though we, the audience, have the script in front of us, her delivery of the lines has us chortling. Plenty of time for the rest of us to catch up, but at the moment it’s looking as if Ginny is going to steal the show.
During the break I approach Jenny. I’m not sure what the deal is with making suggestions, but after each rehearsed scene people have made comments about what works and what doesn’t, so I’m thinking it’s okay. Having now read the play a couple of times, something has struck me: At the end of the play the mayor invites the rats to come and live in the village, promising homes will be built for them. If we want to tailor some of the script to make it more Gabriola-specific, I think we need to add a line here: “Assuming we can get the zoning.”
Nothing on Gabriola is more controversial or divisive than zoning. I certainly don’t side with the developers who would like to see unfettered and disastrously unsustainable growth on the island. That said, there is another school who object to absolutely every proposal. For example, at the moment my road is a dead end. There is a 25 acre lot at the end of it. The owner has said he will pay the cost of putting in a road himself – which would allow the fire truck and ambulance to get here in five minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes it now takes – if he is allowed to subdivide his lot. Does he want to put in 25 houses? No, he wants to subdivide into five five-acre lots. The screaming about this proposal – which has been repeatedly endorsed by the fire chief – is ear splitting and incomprehensible. Not sure how incomprehensible the zoning debate on the island could be? Try reading this article from one of the local papers.
So, anyway, I make my suggestion. Jenny and the others, happily, all grin and agree that a line needs to be included.
The same three scenes are rehearsed again after the break. Ginny is even funnier. She’s setting a high bar.
Herb asks if I have a voice ready for Rat 2 and I panic. Shit, I did have a very good rat voice at the audition. I suspect this is what got me the role. But what was it? I don’t remember. Yikes. Hopefully it will come back to me when our scenes are rehearsed next Tuesday.
In other (non-thespian) Renaissance Woman news, next Tuesday is also the first day of the 10-week watercolour course I am starting. This time I am doing the beginner class which I actually signed up for in January, but which was cancelled as I was the only taker. Yes, I did agree to jump in at the deep end and do the intermediate course, and, yes, I did manage to produce some half-assed paintings.
But I never actually felt as if I had any idea what I was doing. Starting again with the basics is, I think, a very good idea.
All this and the possibility of a new novel next year. Is there no end to her talent (ha, ha)? If only any of this actually paid a living wage.