Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Tony Ending

We're two weeks into the Shear Spring Fling, and each morning I'm waking up with that unlikely mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration that comes only with being In Performance. We have eight shows under our belts, all of the houses populated with a majority of school groups in town on their Class Trip. As a result, the audiences have been raucous but very involved in the Solving of the Murder. The ultimate challenge: to encourage these young audiences to participate, while keeping control of the situation.

What audiences don't know until the final curtain is one of the things which has made the show so successful for so long: when they vote for who they think the murderer is, the cast then plays the rest of the show to reflect their choice. The vast majority of the ballots are cast for the characters of "Barbara," the gum-smacking, wise-cracking hairdresser, or "Eddie," the sleazy antiques dealer. My character, "Tony," is usually perceived as too lovable to commit a crime (except the crime of fashion: I'm wearing pink and white, with Julia Sugarbaker glasses right out of the 80's), so there is very rarely a Tony Ending. In over 200 performances in which I've played Tony over the years, I've been judged the murderer only 3 times.

Until last Thursday, when a group of kids decided Tony was just too fey for his own good, and voted him the murderer. The cast did a terrific job with this unusual scenario (so unusual that we never even rehearsed it together; I was just given the blocking one day, and that was that). There's something to be said for adrenalin (and a sense of underlying panic), and the ending came off well. In fact, I hope I get the chance to play the ending again before the gig is over, as it's great fun turning from the frivolously upbeat hairdresser into the deeply disturbed psycho who stabs the lady upstairs to keep his job.