Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tonight, In the Role of the Man-Eating Plant (or, How a Venus Flytrap Saved My Marriage)

“Well, I sure do agree you’re in a pickle, there,” says the maddeningly chipper phone receptionist. “But our rental agreement clearly states that the puppet needs to be operated by a performer of above-average height and superior athleticism.”

“Right,” I say, struggling not to throw my cell phone across the gym. “But, this kid’s over 6 feet tall and built like a linebacker.”
“Mm-hmm,” says the phone lady soothingly. “Well, let’s troubleshoot. Tell me: How is the young man’s thigh strength?”
We’re eight days from opening night of our school’s annual spring musical. This year we’re doing “Little Shop of Horrors.”
The cast of "Little Shop" around the piano with Dr. Klorpes
                  The cast of “Little Shop” around the piano with Dr. Kiorpes
Compared to other shows I’ve directed, we’re actually in pretty decent shape. Lines are learned, songs are choreographed, costumes are sewn and organized. Parents have worked around the clock transforming the crappy bare stage in the corner of our gym into a professional-looking set. And our lead puppeteer, a talented senior named Keegon—who, let’s be honest, may not be an Olympian but is far and away the tallest and stockiest kid in the cast—has spent the last three months not only memorizing every line, lyric and facial tic of Audrey II, the show’s infamous killer flytrap, but has also learned how to synch his body movements to the plant’s vocals, which are performed by another actor offstage.
Now all Keegon needs is an actual puppet. 

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