Good gracious--my first experience with Stage 212 was playing trombone in the pit for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum up in the penthouse at the Kaskaskia Hotel, the summer after my sophomore year in high school. It was also the first time I saw Cindy (Morris) Myers in her first 212 show as Domina, and Lou (Kaletka) Gayyan, who played one of the Gemini opposite my Latin teacher Pat Crane; my choir director Tom Crane was Hysterium. The next summer, I played trombone again, downstairs in the ballroom, for Mame, with Lou in another role (as Patrick's insufferable WASP fiancee), and my first time seeing Lynn Lister, who was fabulous as Gooch, and Frank Vlastnik, matching her laugh for laugh as young Patrick.
Jump a couple of years, and I'm now IN the summer musical rehearsing on the shaky floors of the Matthiessen House, and performing up in the Dom Ballroom, meeting Paul Christopherson (and hi, Frank and Cindy again), in The Boyfriend--and I'm doing my first costumes (remember the yellow dress, Cindy?) A year later, I'm dancing with Deb Torri in Hello, Dolly, and watching her spin off the stage once, twice... (was it more?) during dance rehearsal. It was also that summer when, driving home from rehearsal with Glenn Hoffman and Sam Kline, Sam's brakes failed on a hill east of Princeton and we rolled the car into the ditch--fortunately with only a few bruises.
A decade went by while I finished college, moved to New York, and back to Peru--and Joe Ennenbach somehow persuaded me to help with costumes and set for Love, Sex, and the IRS. I went way overboard with a whole brownstone streetscape out of polystyrene. And then back at the sewing machine for Damn Yankees! My favorite memory from that one is one Amanda Hillstrom had to reminded me about. She played Lola; I gave her a charm bracelet and told her that each dangle was a soul she'd stolen. In fact, a lot of my memories are linked with set, props, or costume pieces. Learning how to make cartridge pleats and making a duct tape dress form for Cindy Myers as the Godmother in Cinderella--and watching her walk out of her skirt, fall to the floor, and burst into laughter during a dress rehearsal. (Also seeing Yvonne Downing weep from happiness when her rental dress arrived). So many costumes, and my first pair of Capezios (plus a sphinx with Mickey Mouse in the hieroglyphics) for Joseph. Codpieces, and having to rush Dave Roden out of his doublet during intermission before his infamous onstage Act II projectile vomiting incident (I saw it from the house, the man next to me asking aloud, "How did they do that?")! When I directed Mike Garcia in She Loves Me, I had to come up with something to tone down his handsomeness. My brother being an optometrist, he loaned me an old pair of glasses, which added just the right amount of nerdiness. Of course, there had to be a Clark Kent moment where he whipped off the glasses when he almost confesses his secret identity... When I was privileged to work with Lou Gayyan again--alongside the amazing Andy Decker--this time as a director for The Lion in Winter, it was all about Lou's shoes and Andy's sword--and a glorious--again revolving--set created by Roger Perkins. But my favorite show design has to be Born Yesterday. Doing the costumes and props, I decided that Billie's world would be monochrome until she caught the spark of culture and education, so everyone was in grays and blacks (though Maryhelen Bidasio ended up in a brown mink stole after the original silver fur disintegrated during rehearsals!). Pam Grivetti chose a sage green wall paper for Dan Hartenbower's beautiful set--and added presidential portraits from one of the local schools. At the final dress, we all realized that the whole set looked like US currency, which was so perfect for the show.
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I still have the shoes! ❤️
Ron besides your terrific smile, I have always loved your CAN DO attitude. Your creativity has no bounds. Thank you for these wonderful memories. Can't wait to make some more!