Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tales from the Orchestra Pit: Guys and Dolls Part 11

On to show number five. As it was a Friday night, and getting towards the end of the run, we had our biggest audience yet for this performance. That always makes a massive difference, because the reactions are always so much bigger. When you have a large audience they tend to laugh at anything remotely amusing, and when there’s something genuinely funny they go wild with mirth. So it was an especially enjoyable show.
Our police lieutenant once again modified the names of the gangsters during the appropriate scene. This time we had, if memory serves me correctly, ‘Johnny Shrimp Eyes’, ‘Shorty McGuffin’, ‘Goody Baddy’ and ‘Invisible Dan’. Then when Big Julie told him that he’s a scoutmaster, his response for this performance was “Well don’t let me catch you lighting fires with my mother”.
It occurred to me tonight that all of these variations on “Don’t let me catch you helping my mother across the road” don’t actually make any real sense. The original line works well enough, because scoutmasters may well help people’s mothers across the road. But I’ve never heard of a scoutmaster tying knots with someone’s mother, or lighting fires with her. It really doesn’t work. If you know the original line, as we do, then it’s quite funny to hear the variation, but if you’re seeing it for the first time – as the audience are – then it just comes across as quite weird.
The food scene with Nicely Nicely Johnson this time featured a slice of pizza and a doughnut. I’m holding out for a full roast chicken or something for the last night.
On this occasion, Big Julie’s insult to Nicely Nicely just before he sings ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ was “Get up, Mister Potato Head”. The audience seemed to like that, but then it was such a large crowd that they would laugh at anything. Apparently the guy playing Big Julie got into Big Trouble the previous night for saying “Get up, you potato-faced queer”, which of course is not exactly politically correct and does overstep the mark a little. At the time I didn’t really question it but I suppose it’s not the best thing to say in such a light and well-meaning show. Or anywhere, for that matter.
Apart from all that it was the usual story. Turn up, play the music, watch the show, then go home. My reeds are edging closer and closer to their graves, but they should be able to manage through the final two shows. At the end of the day, they’ll have to.

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