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the slightly off-Broadway productions

December 2, 2011

In recognition of the recent U.S. Thanksgiving, I posted last week about a 

diarrhetic turkey I worked with in a fundraiser staged by a campus religious

centre.  United Ministries in Higher Education was a block off Broadway, the

major street in Pittsburg, Kansas.

 

The fundraiser was at a sizeable hall in Pittsburg’s main park.  The UMHE

community figured out that it would be cheaper and easier to do future pro-

ductions in our own building.

 

So we did — seven of them, all in a “Saturday Night Live” vein.  The format 

worked well because it’s modular.  Unlike a play, we didn’t need lots of com-

plicated rehearsing.  Most sketches were five to ten minutes long, so we only

needed the personnel in a particular bit to show up at one time.  With all our

personnel coming from the UMHE community, this was a real plus.

 

It’s not that we didn’t have ample talent.  Our group had a buxom blonde lady

who played guitar and spoke fluent Spanish.  She was perfect as Charo.  We had

another skilled blonde, a young man who played excellent piano and made a

terrific Barry Manilow.  When we wanted to feature a blue grass band, we put

one together with no problem.


When we spoofed “Midnight Special”, our burly, bearded Wade did a spot-on

Wolfman Jack.  He got an extra laugh by not trying to imitate Jack’s trademark

gravelly voice with the ad lib “Welcome.  I’m happy to report that my nasty

head cold has finally cleared up.”  Wade also played Farth Vapor when we took

on “Star Wars”.  He had the line “Sorry, the Force is really with me today.  The

chili at the cantina is lethal.”


We reimagined “Rocky” as “Rockette”.  Multi-talented Susan, who wrote the

sketch, played the lead, who fretted that no one had ever gone the distance

with the world champ, Apostle’s Creed.  Undaunted, though, she trained.  She

ran around the stage and through the audience to the strains of “Gonna Fly

Now”, smoking a cigarette and punching a string of sausages.

 

And she prevailed.  It turned out that someone had indeed gone the distance

with Apostle’s Creed.  She got pregnant and had to forfeit the fight.  Rockette

won by a knock-up.


The flip side of our amateur productions was the amateurs.  One actor got

stage fright and took his script onstage.  Another called a few hours before

a show and said, “I can’t make it tonight.  I have to babysit.”  I had to play her

part.  Uber-funny Joe and I tried to do some comedy improv and died a slow,

agonizing death on stage.  It felt like time had stopped.

 

Yet overall I look at those shows as some of the highest points of my life.  I

learned a lot about live production and the pressure that goes with it.  In one

show, I wrote the fake newscast that started the second half during the break.

Mostly, though, I learned how to best utilize the strengths of everyone who

wanted to participate.  That was extremely challenging and rewarding.

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6 Comments
  1. wade permalink
    December 2, 2011 8:21 am

    Dear Allen,

    Yes, yes, indeed, we did have a good time with those productions!

    And, as many of the people involved with those shows & who saw them & who ever saw her, i wonder where the beautiful young woman who played “Charro” is today.

    Thanks for reminding me of those lovely events & for your efforts in doing them. Oh, yes, and for the memorable cast parties afterwards….

    As always, i remain, yours for the revolution,
    wade

    • December 2, 2011 6:57 pm

      I was hoping you were paying attention, big boy. I’ll always remember the cast party when you popped a champagne cork and it stuck in the ceiling. Don’t forget to wear your mittens to the revolution.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    December 2, 2011 4:57 pm

    It would seem there are other poor twisted individuals out there who have survived prior editions of Allen Perkins presents. I bet our heather drive cast parties were better, I mean how many others included syncronized swimming in a kiddie pool? I’ve been going over some of your blogs, pretty funny. Was so sorry to read about roameo, he was a sweetheart . It’s been a interesting year, and to end it off with a bang. Surgery for a hernia next friday, so i’ll be housebound for awhile and promise to catch up on your blog. Thanks for the recognition of our patented crotch carry liquor system. Give Jude a hug for me and I promise to sit in front of this thing and bitch about surgery, rehab, pain, and swollen groin. Wasn’t that the town Jackie Gleason won the pistol trophy in one of the Smokey an the Bandit movies? Michael

    • December 2, 2011 6:59 pm

      Jeez, I leave you alone for six years and you get a hernia. I’ll call and check on you after surgery, plus to get more details on the kiddie pool incident. I have apparently repressed it.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    December 7, 2011 8:39 am

    Who knew then that Rockette would end up managing a little theatre? I loved those productions — the creative juices mixing with the Annie Green Springs to spoof some of the silliness of those days. What mentors we had in Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, et al, of the early (and may I say BEST) SNL crew! Drag Racing Today still makes me giggle — partially because it took me so long to get the pun — How naive was I???
    Thanks for the multi-talented compliment — always wished I looked more like the Charro blonde, but the Force has to spread out the gifts, so I got what I got and she got the looks!
    Susan

    • December 10, 2011 12:14 pm

      Susan, it’s been a pleasure watching you constantly expand your many talents into all aspects of community theatre. I agree that the original SNL crew was the best. Would we have even tried if the show started with Gilbert Gottfried, Denny Dillon, Chris Elliott or Robin Duke? And how did Dan Ackroyd run so fast in high heels?

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