Showing posts with label Cain Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cain Park. Show all posts

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Showtime! A Tale of Two Shows

Guest blog today by hubby, who was involved in shows presented at Cain Park, Cleveland Heights, OH and at Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, MA. He loved the shows so much that he bought the LPs, pictured here.

Annie Get Your Gun had already been a Broadway hit and a blockbuster movie when it was announced for a summer run in Cain Park, minutes from where hubby and family lived in suburban Cleveland Heights. Here's his memory of working that show as a high school student apprenticing with the crew:

"For Annie, I ran a follow-spot from a 20-ft-high brick tower beside the stage. During the action, Annie Oakley and her beau, Frank Butler, are sailing back from Europe. They get hungry, so Annie shoots into the sky (from center stage). Waiting up on the tower, I throw down a prop stuffed seagull. The audience couldn't see me up on the tower and it seemed like a bit of magic when the bird landed on the stage at Annie's feet. (The night it accidentally landed in the orchestra pit, the conductor handed it up to her.)

"On the last night of the run, an "accomplice" and I cleaned out the theater's prop room and brought all kinds of things up to the tower. When Annie raised her rifle and shot, we threw down six or eight different stuffed animals--a pig, a skunk, even a couple of birds. One of the actors took this in stride, ad-libbing, "That's some fine shootin', Annie!" as Annie and the others cracked up.

Years later, he played Lutz, the prince's valet, the only non-singing role in a Berkshire Community College production of Romberg's The Student Prince.

The director cast hubby as the valet because he looked more mature than the college students playing the other roles. And he had a beard (still does, matter of fact), which was important to the serious look of the character.

Leaving the cast party on closing night, hubby and his ex-wife met a woman who stopped them and commented, "I've never been kissed by a man with a beard." Hubby, being very obliging, leaned over to kiss her cheek...but she grabbed him, pulled him close, and kissed him full on the lips. The kiss went on and on and on. Finally he managed to break away. On the way out, his wife asked in an acerbic tone, "Who was that?" Hubby answered truthfully, "I've never seen her before in my life." Wife had the last word: "She seemed to know you!"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy: Summer--Backstage at Cain (Pain) Park

This is a guest post by hubby, Wally, about his two summers working backstage at famed Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, OH, during the 1950s. The summer season at that time included 4 musicals (which ran for 2 weeks each). 

Cain Park in the 1940s - Cleveland State Library Special Collections

When I was 17 and 18 and still in high school, I worked as a summer apprentice at Cain Park Theater, and my younger sister worked on the paint crew. During the day, I built scenery and at night, I ran a follow-spot on actors during the shows. Because the stage was 90 feet wide, it needed a lot of scenery to fill it. We built almost a full-size house for Wizard of Oz, for example, and a working merry-go-round for Carousel.

It was a challenge because while one show was running, we were building the scenery for the next and handling backstage duties during the current show's evening performance. (We nicknamed the place "Pain Park" because we worked so hard.) Similarly, the cast had to rehearse the next show during the day while performing the current show each night. The cast included dancers and singers and up-and-coming performers . . . people like Dom DeLuise, for example, who I remember was just hilarious in The Red Mill.

The stage crew had a tradition of trying to distract the cast during the final performance of each show (as a prank). In Annie Get Your Gun, I ran a follow-spot from my position high on a brick tower (see two covered in ivy in photo above). During the show, Annie Oakley and her friends are returning from Europe by ship; they're hungry and Annie shoots into the sky to bring down dinner. I would then throw a stuffed seagull from the tower so it would land onstage. All the audience could see is that Annie shot into the sky and this bird dropped near her feet--except the night I missed and threw it into the orchestra pit. 

During the last performance, a friend was in the tower with me. When Annie shot, we threw every stuffed prop we could get our hands on: a pig, a roast turkey, a cat, a puppy. As these items rained down around the star, one of the cast adlibbed: "My, that's fine shootin', Annie!" Looking back, I'm surprised management didn't throw me out of the theater at that moment.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.