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Youth Theater

"My experiences with Youth Theater. Part 1"
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In the Summer of 1990 and the beautiful lady producer from Dracula contacted me again. Her Summer youth theater program was presenting "Grease" for the second time and they needed a Teen Angel. The last time I took the vacant roll of Vince Fountain, the sleazy disc jockey .

The summer theater program lasts June and July, those that signed up are given a number of production choices, and then vote on their favorite.
 
Tryouts are held and the play is cast, and rehearsals commence. That year they were short of males and needed one to take the DJ's role so I was contacted. Rehearsals are 3 times a week until Hell Week, then its an everyday function

The program culminates with a one day production, usually a packed house. The producer's husband is well connected in the concert community and has a professional sound man come in and supply body mics for some of the principal actors, as well for the whole stage.For some students this might be their only exposure to this kind of theater tech.

Now working with young teens is not an easy task. Although talented, they are often easily distracted. For the girls it's the football team working out in the field, and for the boys it's the girlfriends of the players watching them workout. Plus they violate all the backstage superstitions, whistling backstage and peeking through the curtain.

I roared up on my Harley for the first day of rehearsals and became reacquainted with the cast members from the 86 production.The director cautioned again me to watch my colorful language, especially around the young ladies and reminded me that though they are playing teenagers, most of the females are 16 and under.

 In the movie "Grease", teen angel is played by Frankie Avalon. Now I in no way, shape or form resemble Mr.Avalon, I had put on some weight since 1986. So begging some artistic license from the director, I procured an Elvis jumpsuit and glasses. The vocal coach worked with me so I would sound like Elvis, well kind of.

There were some funny moments, two in particular stand out. It was dress rehearsal and during my Elvis/ Teen Angel, number I heard giggles from some of the females backstage. I was advised to purchase some white underwear, as my dark colored briefs showed up very clearly under my Elvis costume.

Now I did not have much time to learn my only song. I got the first and third stanzas down, it was the second stanza that was giving my memory grief. To remedy this I typed out and then taped the songs lyrics to the counter top where Frenchie, the girl I was singing to was sitting.

 Performance day. I make my entrance clad in my Elvis costume and sang the first stanza as I am descending the stairs, and then promptly forgot the rest of the song. Now the young actress playing Frenchie decided to have a little fun at my expense. As she is sitting there staring at me with her big puppy dog eyes, she discreetly slid her arm out to cover my lyrics.

If you watch the tape, you will clearly see me pick up her arm and drop it so I could see the words. Terrible you say? Not really. In 1986 they convinced a singer from a well known local rock band to play Teen Angel. As he is just starting down the stairs he loses his place in the song. He stops, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out the lyrics, gives them a quick scan and then continues without incident.

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