April 13, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall
I fully expected to be impressed, but sweet frolicking bacon bits, the Opera House Players exceeded my expectations with “The Accidental Hit-Man Blues” and knocked my socks off. I can’t find my socks. They’ve been obliterated. My feet are cold.
What an amazing show.
There was a very appreciative audience who had come to be entertained and, judging by the laughter, they were definitely not disappointed.
I talked a while ago about plans for the set and interpretations of “a cheap motel room.” They built the cheapest motel room around and then aged it substrantially. This motel has been neglected for decades. Unidentified stains adorn the bed covers. There are notches in the headboard. A sweat-stain hooker-handprint is on the wall above the bed. Water stains drip down the wall from a leak in the room upstairs. An abandoned set of rabbit-ear antennae sit near a discoloured spot on the wall where a now-stolen television set used to be. The attention to detail that went into this set is incredible.
I’ve also mentioned previously how I was confident with the casting choices Director Craig Strutt had made. I now know that my confidence was not misplaced at all.
Cary Kann tackled what is arguably one of the most daunting challenges for an actor and pulled it off with flying colours, but you’ll have to see the show the show to know what I mean.
Clark Ott‘s portrayal of a dispicable mobster made me feel unclean for having written such a reprehensible character. He was raw and offensive when needed, but slipped easily into the physical humour of the character. (Oh, and things I made him say in front of his mother…)
As Mrs. Frobisher, Michele Smith made the audience feel the nervous confusion and fear of her character as she tried to understand what was suddenly happening in her life.
Sammy the slacker was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a character. Watching Eric Layden‘s performance as Sammy is the most fun I’ve ever had seeing one of my characters come to life.
Sarah Ronnevik and Edward Hayes-Hall as Detectives Sculder and Mully played off each other wonderfully as this mismatched pair of cops. Mully’s dry disdain for everything and Sculder’s sunshiny cheerfulness was fun to watch and enjoy.
Jonathan Banse showed Ron to be the devoted husband I’d hoped he’d be, as he did all he could to keep the only important thing in his life, having lost everything else.
When you write a script, you hear each character’s voice in your head as you put their words on the page. But pragmatically you know that when that voice gets to the stage it will be different because you are going to hand the script off to people who aren’t you. You know that one of two things will happen; either the actors won’t really “get it” and your words will be recited rather than performed, or the actors will “get it” and they’ll build something new and unique and display it to the world.
Each of the actors listed above got it and made me so proud to be associated with them.
Cheri Moser embodied the rare and wonderful third possibility; she was the voice of Laura as I’d always heard it in my head. Every inflection, every movement, every facial expression. Cheri looked at the page and immediately knew who Laura was and what I hoped and wanted for her character. (I only know one other person who has been able to do that with a script of mine, and he’s known me for years so he knows how my mind works.) On stage Laura’s pillow rant moved as suddenly and effectively through emotional ranges as it had in my head when I first wrote it. Laura’s hug of terror in the final scene made me cry it was so powerful and real.
Because this is a world premiere, and because the Opera House Players don’t do anything in half-measures, there was a red carpet reception after the performance, with wine and cheese and mingling with the cast. I will never get used to strangers heaping praise on me, but I did my best to deflect it rightfully onto the cast, crew and director.
Everyone who attended the reception received a commemorative wine glass to take home with them.
It has, I’ve been told, become somewhat of a tradition at the Opera House for Cary Kann to doodle a show-related mouse on the back of the set during every play. This play is no exception and I found this dangerous looking rodent lurking backstage…