Sunday, December 09, 2007

After closing the "Two and Only" at the Dallas Majestic Theater, I stayed around to perform the Christmas concert with the Dallas Pops Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Hall. My friend and conductor Richard Kaufman asked me to narrate the orchestration of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Bob and I recite the poem together after a quick routine. Later I come back on stage, alone, to conduct the orchestration of "Sleigh Ride".

To compensate for my conducting skills Richard and I turned this section into a routine. We get a couple of kids on stage to shake sleigh bells with the orchestra. Since Bob is not on stage at this time, I pick one of the kids to help me. They "audition" by opening their mouth when I tap them on the back as I make them talk like Bob.

The first night we pick a little girl who becomes terrified and stands like a statue on stage. There were no laughs to be mined with her that night.

Richard and I decide we need to pick a more precocious child the next night. There is an energetic six year old boy down front who looks like Opie and can't wait to get on stage. He is right out of central casting for a Norman Rockwell painting.

I am sure he will be perfect until I ask him to open his mouth when I tap. He looks me in the eye and says, "I am not going to be your dummy. " That was that, he would have nothing to do with me from then on.

This is what I love about live theatre, you just never know.

As you were,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay;'
As a children's performer for over 30 years, I have experienced exactly what you are saying only too many times. All books on working with children tell you to use as many volunteers as possible. I have found , as you have, that bring an unknown quantity on stage is always a danger. You loose control. I work best when I am in control, as you do. Hope to catch you in South Orange in February.
Bob Conrad