As many know, I met my wife-to-be on a theatrical stage. 31 years ago, we were cast as brother/sister in the show “The Cocktail Hour.” A year later we were toasting to our marital happiness. But we are far from the only stage performers to find a place within our family tree.
At the beginning of the 20th century, George Tennery, my niece’s husband’s first cousin, appeared on Broadway. His first performance was in The Singing Girl by Victor Herbert. It appears he was an understudy as I found a review of his performance online. It reported that “owing to the illness of the tenor, Mr. Richie Ling, the company was at great disadvantage. Mr George Tennery sang Mr. Ling’s parts during the entire week and the best I can say in his favor is that his singing is not so bad as his acting.” Ouch. But nice to know that the backhanded compliment has a long and storied history among theater critics. I once received a review that said something along the lines of “Mr. Ondrasik, though untrained, certainly seems to be enjoying himself.”
But George apparently continued unfazed, as he appeared in two other Broadway shows, The Fisher Maiden in 1903 and Buster Brown in 1905. I could find no other references to his career although in his father’s obituary it is stated that “he was well known as one of the best tenor singers in the musical world.”
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And be sure to check out our TEDxEustis talk: https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.
You’ll have to indulge me… I’m having a bit of a spousal pride moment. Yesterday, I attended a party held in honor of my wife who is retiring from her position with Orlando Health after 17 years. It is always nice to hear kind words of esteem and appreciation directed towards the woman I love. It came as no surprise – she has always impressed me.
I met her in 1991. I had just moved to Orlando and didn’t really know anyone in the area. I decided to audition for a community theatre production of A.R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour to help pass the lonely nights. During the process I noticed an attractive actress who was auditioning for a supporting role. I was delighted when we were both cast.
If you have never worked in community theater before, the process is a bit different. In professional theater, the object is to move the production from rehearsal stage to live audiences as quickly as possible in order to begin recouping production costs. In community theatre, there is an extended rehearsal process followed usually by a short performance run.
I got to know my future wife fairly well during the six weeks we rehearsed. Well enough for me to not want the show to end. When the show opened, the time we spent together was dramatically reduced.Concocting a reason to stay connected and continue the flirtation, I suggested we run our lines backstage before the show started. I had never done that before in any other play.
The other cast members noticed our mini-rehearsal routine and wanted in. It wasn’t long before our four person cast was doing a full backstage performance of the entire show before the show actually started. I can’t say it served the play well. I know I had more than one deja vu moment onstage where I felt like we had already done a scene before we actually did it. But the audiences didn’t seem to mind. The show was held over by popular demand and a year later that actress and I got to deliver some more rehearsed lines… our marriage vows.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides (and yes, we do have a digital copy of the show we did together as part of our memory collection.) For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.