Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Wednesday, July 2, 2008
You have to wonder about the nature of obsession, seeing one of West Point's plumbers, Jerry Hugo, up on stage as Uriah Brunner, co-founder of the city, in conflict with the owner of a West Point trucking company, Vaughn Beed, the dastardly villain of the melodrama, "North of West Point." In his life on street, not on stage, Hugo also serves on the city council, I believe. These folks are plenty busy, you'd think; yet they find time in their busy days to rehearse a show especially written by John Burkhart for West Point's celebration. It is a melodrama, everything writ large and broad, black and white; and it is the history of West Point's founding a century and a half ago, although you recognize the author didn't let mere historical fact get in the way of a good story. The call to community theater might be an especial perversion: at once a desire to abuse yourself every night for weeks in rehearsal playing such make-believe, and also the courage to step out on stage in front of friends and neighbors, hoping for their approbation, or at least that you'll draw of good guffaw from them.

Gwen Lindberg would accompany the performance on piano Thursday night and Friday afternoon. And on Wednesday night, during the dress rehearsal. Which I attended with her.

It is one thing to attend a program on the final night of its run, when all the kinks that will ever get worked out have been worked out. It is quite another thing to see the dress rehearsal: the cast may be in costume, yet somehow they are still quite naked up there on stage.

That's why you rehearse, I guess: you have to make so many mistakes before you can give a flawless performance. Apparently this troupe had more than a few mistakes to get out of the way on Wednesday night. When the dress rehearsal was done the co-directors, Gloria Wellman and Marlene Wiechman, told the cast to change out of their costumes and return for an additional run through the second act.

Yes, they did the second act again, the night before the first performance.

Someone asked me what I thought. I said I thought it was kind of exciting to watch a show not knowing whether or when the train would go entirely off the track. The possibility of the whole thing ending up a train wreck adds a certain drama to a show.

Yet dress rehearsal is rehearsal, I reminded myself. And the West Point Community Theatre Company has probably pulled itself out of worse dress rehearsals than this, I thought. They would get through it - together. They are a company: they have shared bread with each other; they have shared pain. They would lean on each other, would lead each other to success.

I was almost sure of it.

To be continued....

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