Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Good Samaritan and the Unexpected Understudy

It was a pretty hectic two weeks, getting The Nerd up and running out at Wayside Theatre, more on that in a mo'. But I was very, very glad to pull up to my condo building late Sunday afternoon. After an awkward matinee that day (during which I knocked a full cup of drawing pencils off the table, dumping dozens of pencils onto the stage floor, gotta love live theatre), and a very hot 90 minute drive back to DC, I was ready to relax for a few days. 'Twas not to be.

Monday morning, as I was lazily preparing to head out into the heat to run some errands, my cell phone rang. A woman who does not know me, nor I her, was calling in a neighborly fashion, to alert me that a black bag had been delivered to her doorstep in the middle of the night. According to the label, the bag belonged to me.

I hurried downstairs with a sinking feeling which was justified as soon as I stepped outside. My car had been burgled in the night, the glove box had been ransacked, and my trunk emptied. Well, not completely emptied: the thief had left behind the skanky towels I use at the gym. But the black bag which contained my laptop was gone. I was feeling quite the fool as I walked around the corner to the neighbor's house to retrieve my empty bag. (Well, again, the bag was not completely empty: the thief had apparently been unimpressed with my 8x10 headshots, and had left them behind. Everybody's a critic.)

It was my own stupidity which made the Big Heist possible. My car was not broken into, I had apparently left it unlocked. And it was more stupidity which persuaded me my laptop would be safe overnight in the trunk. For several hours on Monday, I kicked myself for my oversight, even as I recognized the ridiculousness of the feelings. I, the victim, was feeling guilty, while the perp was happily walking around with my laptop. (And several dollars worth of quarters, which he had also snatched from the car. Even lowlifes have to feed the meters in DC.)

Such things happen regularly when living in urban settings, which is where I choose to live, so what the hell. I suppose I should feel lucky that the sleaze did not know how to start a car without a key, as I drive a Honda Civic, and I'm told they are prized on the hot car market.

I was feeling violated for a couple of hours, but it is amazing how a gig improves my mood, no matter what is going on. The Nerd is in full swing now, after a rocky final rehearsal period.

One of our actors took ill only a few days before our opening, and it was determined that he could not perform our first weekend. Wayside, like most theaters its size, cannot afford understudies, so our director stepped into the breach. Luckily, Bill Higgle is an actor as well as director, with strong comedic chops which he showed to great advantage during our two preview performances, and again opening night. After only two rehearsal days, he was able to bring a lively tempo and hysterical timing to the character, which is several decades too old for him, but nobody cared. Bill infused his time on stage with real drive, and his performance proved the pace necessary for his scenes to be truly funny. I had a great time with Bill onstage, and was sorry to see him return to DC, his home base, once his performance was no longer needed. The experience was another in a long line of "The Show Must Go On" stories which all actors cherish.

We have two more weeks of the show, afterwhich, who knows what's coming next?