Here I Come, To Save The Day…

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I saw a photo yesterday. It was of a matchbook from Harlequin Dinner Theater (Rockville Md). The Harlequin was one of my families’ favorite venues for an evening’s entertainment. I found it unique in that the waiters/waitresses that took drink orders and served them at intermission were also members of the cast. They were usually from the chorus but sometimes a supporting actor or actress would serve a table or two. It was fun to see our server play a character onstage and I guess they were happy for the opportunity to make some tips.

I’ve only had two dinner theater experiences as an actor. And the only reason I had the second one was because my wife coerced me into it. The first one was an unmitigated disaster. It was just after college. I found myself stranded in Toledo Ohio due to some financial miscalculations on my part. While I waited for my coffers to be refilled, I had some spare time so I did theater at night. A couple of shows with the Toledo Repertory Theater led to a paying gig at the Commodore Perry Dinner Theater. The show was How The Other Half Loves, a British sex farce.

The production was rough. The audience was rougher. The producers, thinking a comedy would be well served if the crowd was in the proper mood to laugh, offered ridiculously low prices on their alcoholic beverages. By the time the show started, the audience was half in the bag. Instead of making them laugh, their inebriety just prompted heckling.

What may prove to be my lowest moment onstage came when I, playing a husband who is having an affair with the wife of his boss, stepped out of what was presumed to be the bathroom and appeared onstage wearing a towel as a cape, a big S on my chest sculpted with shaving cream while wearing a pair of Underoos two sizes too small – with a plastic Mighty Mouse embarrassingly glued to a location where I would have rather not had the audience’s attention drawn. It has taken me decades but I have finally blocked out of my memory the comments and catcalls that were hurled my way.

I determined that my time in Toledo would be cut short. The very minute my contract at the Commodore Perry ended, I loaded my car with the few possessions I had and hit the highway. No lie… I literally left that night after the curtain call. My embarrassment trumped my lack of funds. I figured I would drive until I was out of gas and money. And this I did… and survived to tell the tale.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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Any Requests?

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I don’t know if anyone noticed, but last Sunday there was a live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar on TV. This was a show that debuted in the 1970s when I was in high school. And I, like many of my classmates, owned the soundtrack album and listened to it over and over again.

Now, as embarrassing as it may be, you are about to hear the rest of the story. This is the memory that came to mind as I was watching the show.

WINX was the local radio station that most of us kids listened to in my hometown and they started a request line where teens could call in to ask the DJ to play certain songs. 

I was with a friend in my house after school listening to the afternoon DJ spin his records when the request line came on. I was dared by my friend to call in a request. Stupidly, I didn’t realize that I could have refused to rise to the bait. Instead, I called the radio station and, to my utter amazement, the DJ picked up.

He asked me what I wanted to hear. In retrospect, I probably should have thought about that before I dialed. But now I was on the spot.  Jesus Christ Superstar was the hottest album at that time so I just said “play something from Jesus Christ Superstar.” And I hung up and listened to the broadcast.

After the commercial ended, the DJ came back on air to say, “Here’s a request from Mike in Rockville Maryland who wants to say, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”

My friend went into convulsions.

I pretended to be sick the next day so I didn’t have to go to school.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audiotapes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Color Me Red-Faced

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I see commonality amongst families. We record the same events; we document the same kind of red-letter dates. And we typically have buried in all the reels of film or boxes of home movie videotapes one singularly embarrassing moment captured by the camera that has over time become a family favorite and the cause of much laughter over the years.

Today, I digitized what I can only assume is one such moment and, out of respect for my clients, will not divulge the specifics. But I am sure that when the family gathers to watch the DVDs I’m producing for them from the videotapes they haven’t been able to watch for years, there’s going to be a considerable amount of laughter and love in the room.

I know from experience. I too have such a moment that was lovingly recorded by my darling parents. A moment that was used to try to cause me great embarrassment in later years by my sibling. In her defense, she had a righteous cause. Earlier, I had found an embarrassing photo of her as a toddler, standing naked in the bathroom, reaching into the toilet but looking back at the camera with a big grin on her face. At the time she was nearing sixteen, (and of dating age), I decided to take that photo and thumbtack it up on the community bulletin board at our local pool where all her friends were sure to see it. What can I say? I was fourteen and to me, it was funny.

She waited a long time to get her revenge. Near the end of the summer the following year, our swim team held an end of season picnic and party where the highlights of our swim season would be shown on a Super 8 projector.  It was a much anticipated and well populated event. My beloved sister decided to take the below family movie clip and somehow managed to splice it into our swim team’s highlight reel for all my friends and their families to see. Embarrassment complete. What comes around goes around.

Well done sis.

What embarrassing moments has your family recorded that you can now look back on and laugh?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.