6 degrees of Eva Peron

Well, I’m baaack! Sorry I have been gone away for so long (to those who missed me !) it has been absolutely crazy around FCT the past few weeks, no I mean CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY, and as much as I have wanted to come home and write, the time , and energy, just hasn’t been there. So before I go on with today’s entry, one I have been saving for 2 months to write about, I do want to get a plug in for GREASE.
The show is coming along very nicely, the kids are really putting a lot of effort into making it very fun for them and the audience and entertaining all the way around. A lot of tech work, painting and general cleaning is going to be happening this Saturday the 28th so if you have an hour or so to share, drop on out after 10 am and your services will certainly be welcomed. Then plan to get out to see the show and tell some friends.
The teens are also still looking for more patrons, many levels of contribution are available, see any cast member or get the mailing info from the web site and support our teens!
For those of you who have forgotten, never knew,or just didn’t realize it but June 26 , 2008 marks the 56th anniversary of the death of Eva Peron. Now your probably thinking, what does this crazy bald guy have to care about that nearly ancient history, well….
On Saturday April 26, 2008 I was working at the Stranahan Theater during the Broadway Series run of EVITA, Two very nice average “little old ladies” came in to see the show, it was about 10 minutes before the house was cleared for seating so as they waited for the doors to be opened I struck up a casual conversation with them and of course one of my standard questions is ” Have you ever seen this show before?” One of the women replied “NO, but have wanted to for so long” the other lady then adds as she points to her friend, “She is from Argentina” I found that mildly interesting and thought to myself that I now had an explanation for both of their rather thick accents. Then my mouth gapped open when the lady from Argentina says “I was at the funeral”…my mind raced and I quickly asked ” Eva Peron’s funeral?”
“Yes” she says!
OK, now I’m just a little confused, myself having obviously slept through that day of history class and that much more of that mid 90’s Madonna movie, I thought there is no way that anyone could still be alive and have attended that funeral, I just couldn’t do the math that fast, but then she explains .. and she has all the details to back up her story…
That night, April 26, 2008 was her 56th wedding anniversary and on June 26, 1952, she knew exactly where she was and what she was doing because it was her 2 month wedding anniversary and she very much wanted to go out that night in Buenos Aires with her new husband to celebrate. As she tells the story, I gather that she had had a conversation with her father earlier that day and he had pleaded with her to stay at home , because knowing of the ill health of Eve Peron he predicted that ” Tonight is the night, she will pass tonight, and you must be home!”
So she took her fathers advise and she and her husband stayed home and did not venture out into the city that evening.
She had wanted to go to the movies that night, yes I said the movies, for anyone who has seen the show you know the opening scene is….in …a movie house! Just everyday people going about their everyday business, like perhaps a young couple celebrating their anniversary, When the projector stops and a man steps before the crowd to proclaim “It is my sad duty to inform you that today at 8:25 p.m. Eva Peron, Spiritual Leader of the Nation, entered immortality”.
So as I absorb all these details I am thinking to myself THIS WOMAN COUL D HAVE BEEN LIVING OUT THAT SCENE FROM THIS SHOW …IN REAL LIFE!
Maria, as I eventually learned was this wonderful woman’s name, was so relieved that she hadn’t left the house that tragic night, she explained that all activity in Argentina stopped, the buses didn’t run, the cabs stopped and the nation went into immediate mourning. Days and days of national mourning followed and she told me of the huge crowds that gathered in the streets to pay their respects.
Maria had seen the movie version and had planned to see the stage show when it came through Toledo before but wasn’t able to , so now after all these years she was finally going to see so much of the story that as a young girl growing up and starting a life in Argentina she had lived through.
During Act 1, I wondered up to the lobby where I told one of the theatre league staff members my recap of this woman’s story, she said she was headed back stage right away to spread the word through the cast that this personal connection to their on stage story was in the house that night. Before intermission began I was told the cast wanted to extend an invitation to Maria to meet the cast after the show.
She was thrilled when I told her of the request and after the show then with tears in her eyes from the very intense flood of emotions she had just relived after so many years I escorted her back stage to meet the majority of the cast. I don’t know who was more excited! The young woman who portrayed Eva was so touched to be meeting someone that as she described “brought her full circle with her character”, no amount of research equaled the odd presence of this total stranger to her, she immediately told Maria how “she felt so much closer to a part of history now”
Maria’s meeting of the cast brought tears to all of their eyes, it all seemed so strange.. although this woman had no direct connection to anything in Evita, but somehow, just the knowledge that she had lived and experienced what that group of actors, most barely into their 20’s were living out nightly on stage seemed to have a remarkably humbling experience on them.
Maria’s meeting of the actor who played Juan Peron seemed exceptionally touching to her, she reached way up and cradled his face in her hands, almost I thought, like she would have done if it had been Peron himself.
Normally when us “regular” people meet a celebrity it is a happy and excitable time, this was not the case that night. Respect and admiration from both sides of the group filled the narrow hall way where we gathered. a few photo ops were exchanged and then we all said our good byes to a remarkable moment in time, one of those rare moments where reality and theatre cross paths.
The next day several of the cast members told me of how they had enjoyed the meeting so much and it all still seemed unreal to them. That night as the good byes were being said, Maria’s son who had joined them that night knew we had mad his mothers night, she was a super star!
After 2 months since this amazing coincidental night happened I still am taken back somewhat by the shear oddity of it all, sure knowing that it was only 56 years ago and many many people that were there are still alive , but how did a woman span 56 years time and half a world and end up half a world away watching a play written so long after the events that she had experienced first hand.
So no matter how much I realize the events of Evita are actual depictions of life in Argentina before I was born, and at one time they seemed so long ago and far away, I know now I have a very close and unique connection to a fascinating story.
…and now, On With the Show !

OCTA time

Well, it’s that time of year again for the northwest regional OCTA fest, this year the competition is in Lima, I doubt too many FCTers will be going despite the abbreviated schedule. In an attempt to avoid excerpts on Fathers Day all the shows will be on Friday night and Saturday, with a banquet to follow then with the awarding of the winners at that time. Like FCT’s decision not to send a show , it seems like several other theatres have had to do that too, not nearly as many excerpts as in years past, sometimes it just works out that way. It is a lot of work and can be costly so that’s likely some of the reasons, but other times, authors restrictions or just the busy times with larger casts and long distances to travel to the festival can be the reasons.

Even the shows that are not..how can I say, tactfully, not up to the higher standards that I personally strive FCT productions to be, can be entertaining and educational to watch, although sometimes.. also painful. Lessons can be learned though, maybe not as much what to do sometimes, as what NOT to do!
Regardless it is a good time to chat with other theatre nuts, find out what they did the past season, what is coming up for them, and maybe even pick up a few good ideas for a show or technique along the way, plus there is usually a fair amount of laughter and good times often inspired shall I say by the presence of some “adult beverages”, yes this may come as a big shock to some of you but this crazy bald guy is going to have a few of those oh so well deserved libations this weekend!
I still have some packing to do and it’s getting late but I did want to send a big round of applause out to the casts and musicians from GUYS AND DOLLS and IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING for the wonderful evening of entertainment they provided for the community at the Hayes Presidential Center veranda concert June 11. The crazy rains and storms of the past week took the day off and it was just a beautiful evening for folks to bring down their lawn chairs to the rolling hills of the estate and sit back and enjoy the talents of almost 40 FCTers. Mary Jo and Randy should be proud of the way their shows represented FCT, it’s always an honor to perform at the Hayes Center, we thank them for their generosity.
The evening was closed when Mary Jo made a touching dedication of the last selection of the night to the victims and their families of the recent plane crash that took the lives of
  • Gene Damschroeder Sr., 86, of Fremont
  • Bill Ansted, 62, of Lindsay
  • Allison Ansted, 23, of Lindsay
  • Danielle Gerwin, 31, of Gibsonburg
  • Emily Gerwin, 4, of Gibsonburg
  • Matt Clearman, 25, of Maumee
    Gene Damschroder had many members of his immediate family perform with FCT over the years. Along with numerous other FCT connections to some of the others that were lost this last week.
    Our hearts and prayers are with them and their loved ones at this time.
  • Theatre – LOVE IT / HATE IT part I

    WOW! How time flies! It’s hard to believe a week has gone by since my last posting here, it has been ONE busy week and what a week it has been!
    I’ve been at the theatre a lot and first off I’d like to say the Grease music is sounding REALLY good. Cheryl is working the kids hard to get the harmonies and incredible falsettos right on the money, you will be impressed. They will sound just like you have turned back the hands of time and are enjoying a bee-bopping juke box in the local burger shoppe as ’57 Chevy’s cruise up and down the street just past the roller-skating car hops. Many musical moments are being provided by Linda’s magic fingers on the piano, kudos again Linda for such devotion and superb playing!
    OK, back to my headline, isn’t it just the truth sometimes? most times? I have been thinking about this a lot lately, maybe in light of the old saying ” Keep the drama on the stage”
    As you most likely have figured out by now I sure do love theatre, why else can you possibly imagine I devote the time and energy I do to it.. the fabulous pay?? Over the majority of my adult life I have enjoyed so many aspects of community theatre life. I have met some real, let’s say “characters” and I don’t mean the ones on stage. I also more importantly have made some very special life-long friends. I feel I defined basically what a HUGE amount of what my life is going to have all been about.. wow, that even surprises me as kind of heavy… whew!
    Some time ago I think I realized that the chances of me “getting to Broadway” were slim to none, wait.. I never thought about going in any case, a guy can still dream right?
    I have tried to use all the talents I was born with to enhance productions and the total theatrical experience for our patrons from the moment they walk into the lobby, thru intermission and right into the car during the ride home.
    I have never laughed so hard, so many times, over so many silly things! I have also shed many tears, as we have been forced to say good bye, forever, to so many of our friends. More tears have flowed as emotions and passions have ignited controversy and anguish over issues we have felt so deeply about.
    I have been lucky to enjoy those moments on stage when something as simple as a raised eyebrow can make the audience explode in uncontrollable extended laughter. I have been proud as a director to stand in the back of the auditorium and watch and listen as 200 guests sit motionless and in total silence in their seats , even after 2 hours of show behind them as the suspenseful conclusion of a drama unfolds before their eyes.
    I have been personally rewarded many times over when the curtain opens and I hear the gasps of the crowd and the spontaneous applause for a beautiful set. I have also lost so many countless hours of sleep as I have worked through the night to get it all done or perfect a detail, before the curtain rises, often working with a very small crew of just as crazy devotees.
    I have had those “touch of fame” moments when walking through the grocery or drug store and I’ve been recognized as “weren’t you the guy with the big white rabbit?”
    I have broken fingers building a set.
    I have stopped my car along the curb on unlimited trash pick up day to fill my trunk with items just right for the latest set. I have been high on the fumes of permanent magic markers after hours of working on a custom project.
    My blood pressure surely has soared as I took the stage on opening night, with only a few hours notice, to replace a hospitalized cast member.
    I have sat at length staring at a membership list trying to find the volunteers needed to fill so many jobs.
    I have totally lost my train of thought…. no seriously… as you can imagine I do have MUCH more to say on this subject but I have killed enough of your time for right now, just be warned there is more to come.
    we all have a very strange case of love it / hate it when it comes to the theatre. For now , let’s leave today’s discussion in love it only mode.
    enjoy and relish the magic moments,
    make the best of your time everyday,
    push yourself to the absolute best you can be,
    learn something new,
    think outside the norm,
    greatness does not come easy,
    help somebody,
    thank somebody.
    …and now, On With the Show !