What is an ACTORR Production?
started in Mrs. Murphy's 4th grade class at Albert Schweitzer Elementary
School in Levittown PA in 1964. I remember the day she announced that
the class had come up ideas for a Christmas play that would illustrate
the different Christmas traditions around the world. To my surprise, my
idea was chosen. I was equally surprised that I would head a writing
committee that would put dialog to my idea, "That Was the Night That
Was", stolen from a TV show.
The idea was that Santa gets ill and his
son, Willie Claus, has to deliver the presents. It's his first time out
so he gets things mixed up. Pinatas go to Holland, wooden shoes go to
Mexico, etc. Santa sends Willie out to set things straight, but the kids
are already enjoying what they got and learning about other cultures.
Seems I liked stories with a message even then. Being the tallest kid in
class, I was cast as Santa Claus, a big step up from 3rd grade and the
first play I was in ("Transportation" I played a canoe).
The 5th grade music teacher had me singing
my first solo in front of the whole school, "Fifteen Miles on the Erie
Canal." In 6th grade, in Mr. Whaling's "Rapid Learners" class, we
presented the rather adult Noel Coward comedy, "Blythe Spirit," for
which I designed and helped build the set.
In 7th grade Junior High, Mr. Wolfe
recruited me for chorus, and made me the lead in the musical, "Where
is the Mayor?," a big honor that usually went to a 9th grader. That
summer, Mr. Wolfe suggested that I take the "Summer Stock" course at the
High School. He explained that it was 2 months of courses on acting,
singing, dancing, and stagecraft, and the rehearsal and presentation of
a musical. The show was "Annie
Get Your Gun" and I landed a supporting role with a song, against
older competition. I never attributed it to talent, guys being in short
supply, I figured I was already as tall as the high school guys.
Peer pressure is a powerful thing....to be continued