Tell us about something you have done on a stage

I think I had one line in ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the sixth grade. But a friend of mine hit the big time:

As high school students we got to usher at the opera. One night when the performance was La boheme a lady came out and asked “does anyone know how to march troops” my friend raised his hand and said “yeah, I’m in ROTC”. So, away he went and an hour later, dressed in a red and black uniform with a tall furry hat, he marched the troops onto the stage of the San Francisco Opera House.

I forgot I was on TV myself … on a debate show for high school kids. Our topic was “Should the US Stop Bombing North Vietnam,” so you can tell how long ago this was. We met at the studios, got our topic, and were told we would come back two (?) months to tape the show. Fortunately, we were the Pro side. The Con side was a bunch of YAFers from Burbank High with Max Rafferty stickers all over their car.

We taped the show on a Saturday. The very next Tuesday LBJ announced he was stopping the bombing of North Vietnam. We said he must have seen our taping, and we convinced him. Ha.

The show was still broadcast, even though the question was a moot point.

Dang. Something else I did. In high school, a group of us had a kazoo “choir” called The Mordecai E. Roschwald Memorial Kazoo Choir and Harry’s Electric Foot. We played Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring in the school talent show.

Not a stage per se… but here goes!

I was working on the floor crew as a studio camera op for a TV station in a mid-60’s size TV market, meaning not quite the “big time” but close. Prior to one Sunday night news cast, the director told me to go home and put on a suit. I asked why… he said that the weather guy called in sick so I had to do weather. I said, “I’ve never done weather”. He said, “All you have to do is run your yap for two minutes and 30 seconds. Should be easy for you, of all people!”

Thus emboldened, I went home and put on my kelly green leisure suit. This was in 1976, when such monstrosities were in fashion. Came back to the station, went to the weather office, ripped some copy off of the weather teletype and grabbed the weather map camera card from the night before. I moved the acetate cell with all the “H’s” and “L’s” a bit from the left to the right, since that is generally how the weather moves. I was all set!

Got out to the studio, plunked my weather map onto the camera card stand and then ran my camera for the beginning of the show as usual. When it came time for weather I locked down my camera on a wide shot of the chroma key screen, took my place and introduced myself to the audience. I could see the weather map keyed behind me as I gazed into the teleprompter. I began to gesture at the big red “H” over my right shoulder. But my hand went to the left. This totally threw me so I did it again. And again. What I didn’t realize right off was that being on TV was NOT like looking in a mirror. Everything was backwards, left was right, right was left! I stared at myself on the prompter. The folks at home saw me staring at the camera like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. I could hear the director and audio guy howling with laughter in the not-so-soundproof control room. I completely locked up. They let me die live on camera for what seemed like forever then went to a commercial. When we got out of commercial they were still laughing but I was standing behind my camera where I belonged. The show went on even though the anchor dude was still snickering.

This was back in the day when videotape was 2" wide and real expensive so we rarely recorded our newscasts, for which I am still thankful. It was some small comfort to know that this was a Sunday night 10 pm news cast so our audience was likely about 10 people and maybe a dog.

I never got asked to do weather again.

That sounds lovely.

In my 32 year career I tuned pianos for various concerts (classical). Too many to list, but no really famous pianists.
The famous people I tuned for included Brian Wilson (non classical, obviously); I also tuned harpsichords for several performances by Igor Kipnis as well as one concert by Anthony Newman.

My ten-minute career as a performing artiste on a brightly lit stage consisted of playing a couple accordion solos at my Eighth Grade graduation ceremony, for classmates, families, and the Nuns. I was actually very good (for my age) but having been blessed with lifelong crippling stage fright, it was my first and last performance in front of any sort of audience.

As lovely as a kazoo choir can sound, I guess. :stuck_out_tongue:

In my accordion class, our wacky teacher insisted that we each play a solo in every class for an audience of the parents. Other than getting dinged for playing Lady of Spain too many times, it really helped with my stage fright.

Was I the only one who expected the punchline to be based on these two facts?

Our chroma key backdrop was blue. Unlike a lot of mid market and up stations, our “talent” dressed themselves. Our female weekday anchor / primadonna thought blue went well with her blond hair, so she was a disembodied head on a regular basis :wink:

The keyer could be tweaked so that the talent could usually get away with wearing something very close to chroma key blue, tho the key might “sparkle” a bit.

Musicals of several sorts (The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, etc) and light comedies were my acting milieu. I’ve also appeared in various vocal roles - barbershop, choirs, soloist, and so forth.

Thankfully the dancing was minimal as were my skills. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

No, you were not.

Ok, I’ll bite! Favorite stage moments: The American in Paris-themed Nutcracker Not So Suite with Ballet of the Dolls(a cabaret like grab bag of dancer/artists in Minneapolis.)Not only do I love that movie(well, the dancing!)but elements of Brassai’s Secret Paris of the 1930’s photos and the tunnel-dwelling “Mole People” of something like the movie Dark Days. (A famous example of Brassai’s pictures would be the picture drawn in the Titanic movie, “La Mome Bijou”. ) I didn’t have a very big part but lots of dancing and costume changes.
Less stage-y and more live-action theatrics would include full body paint and a wig for an artists’ party that was clothing optional. For everyone. The body paint was to look like a marble statue. When the original venue realized naked people were going to attend the party, we had to move it at the last minute. The funniest wrinkle in this gig was that the smokers had to dress, if they were stepping out for a cigar…: )

Nothing so stirring as a sea of Rhode Islanders, recognizing the anthem, surging to their feet in the bleachers while we buzzed away.

I’ve done a lot of community theater. The incident that stands out most to me was when I was playing Willy Wonka. The tech people filmed Mike Teavee jumping around and worked out some kind of feed to a large TV on stage pointing directly at the audience. The idea was that the kid playing the role would disappear from the stage in a flash of some kind and appear onscreen in just a few seconds–long enough for me to say “He’ll be here any moment–ah, there he is!”

It worked perfectly the first three times. The fourth and last time, though, nothing happened. I stared at the screen. So did the woman playing Mrs. Teavee and the people playing Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe. Then they all looked at me. I looked at them. “I’m sure he’ll be along any moment now,” I improvised. “He’d better be!” cried Mrs. Teavee. “He’s got to be,” I said, hoping that he indeed would be, and vamped a few more lines about it being an unproven technology and all like that until it became abundantly clear that something had gone very wrong in the production booth and we were in serious trouble.

Luckily I had a brainstorm just as the audience began shifting uncomfortably in their seats. “Sometimes reception is improved if the television set is angled differently,” I said, grabbing the TV and turning it around to face the back of the stage as quickly as I could. “Ha!” I added once the screen was well out of the audience’s vision. “And there he is!” He wasn’t, of course, but it didn’t matter.

Guess all those pre-cable years of moving the TV back and forth to “improve reception” (ha!) paid off.

When I was in year 12 (6th Form in the old parlance), the head of English decided to put on a school play, Arms and the Man (George Bernard Shaw). I was the leading man, which involved carrying the entire first act with the female lead, and a massive soliloquy.

Opening night was a disaster - I was well prepared, but one of the other cast members completely lost his place, we had an awkward silence, some out-of-character yelling from the female lead, and then I managed to figure out where we should be, and get us back on track.

We had a hasty run-through the next day during school, and survived a couple more performances with fewer on-stage failures.

I also joined the University Review a couple of years later - some short skits, and as part of the chorus for some songs. I wasn’t involved in the only memorable sketch, which was a parody of The Professionals (80’s UK action/crime drama). The sketch itself was mundane, but was enlivened on opening night by one of the leads leaping on to a desk and jumping down again in an action-packed scene, and hitting his head on a rafter over the stage on his way through.

I was in a play in high school where I had to sing a solo at one point. Unfortunately, the guy in charge of supplying the backing music started the tape before I was entirely ready. I made a split-second decision to pretend that the entire first verse’s worth of music was just a really long prelude. It seemed like a pretty good decision. But it hadn’t occurred to me that the tape had a fixed amount of music on it, so when I got to the last verse, the tape stopped and I had to carry on all by my lonesome.

Just after high school, I started getting into magic. My sisters were involved in a medieval music group and a local restaurant had an idea of a dinner and entertainment. They wanted something to liven it up so I was the jester and learned magic. From there, I became an amateur magician with occasionally paid gigs. Typically the audiences were around 30 to 100ishbut the largest was maybe five hundred people. That’s a lot of people watching to see if you screw up.

A lot of the jobs I got were for street magic at affairs where people are free to come and go. That’s much harder than at events where people are captive audiences.

The worst one was where a group of intellectually disabled adults were wondering around, coming up during the show and trying to participate or get one-on-one explanations. There were the support people there but they weren’t helping. Afterwards, the other performers told me that they were all praying that the group would leave before it was their turn.

I was OK, decent stage presence, timing and what not, but doing magic is like singing; if you are good, people tell you that you should go pro, but then you find out that the real professionals are something else. As an amateur showing friends, I could blow their minds. As a semipro in certain situations, I was entertaining, but I definitely hit my ceiling.

In college I played Vizzini in a “tech crew acting/actors doing tech” production of The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!

These days I direct, so I’m on stage a lot, just not when an audience is around. And that’s better for everyone!

Received 3 diplomas, but maybe that does not count. (High school and 2 colleges)

I did perform with bands, but, thankfully, I could just blend in and look like one of many (not rock bands, but concert bands that play marches, etc.)