The Amateur Actors of Orange County

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


Lucinda and Dorinda are up to no good, while Ronny Loomis is trying to get his Equity card.

Chapter 15 (v.1) - Two Very Dangerous Fans

Submitted: March 25, 2017

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Submitted: March 25, 2017

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Two Very Dangerous Fans

When Abby’s Shield’s television series was mercifully cancelled Mary Thompson, a frequent viewer of the show, was perfectly fine with its failure to return for yet another season in primetime.  And this despite all the time she had invested watching it every time a new episode aired on Monday night ever since the show’s inception.  Over the years she could sense that the writing and general story lines depicted on the show had somehow become tired and frayed around the edges.  Although, she did not know the reasons for the show’s gradual decline, i.e. the ongoing feud between Abby and her costar.  So naturally when the show was dropped by the network it was no big loss to her plans every Monday night.  However, not so with the two other individuals that lived deep within her subconscious mind.  Those two avid fans took the loss of the show quite hard.  And as it turned out, murderously hard. 

Unlike Mary Thompson, her two and as of yet unknown personalities, unknown to her at any rate, were shippers of the show; very dangerous shippers in point of fact.  Their names, the ones they gave to themselves, were Lucinda and Dorinda, and every Monday night they anxiously and silently waited, from somewhere deep within the recesses of Mary’s psyche for the next episode of “Fortress” to air.  And when that time came, they watched it rapturously, peering through the very same eyes and listening through the very same ears as did Mary.  Just like a couple of stowaways hiding somewhere within the SS Mary Thompson

What exactly is a “shipper” you might be wondering?  To paraphrase Wikipedia the following abbreviated definition applies:

“Shipping, initially is derived from the word ‘relationship’, the desire of fans for two or more people, as in real-life people, or in many cases fictional characters, to be involved with each other, i.e. as in a relationship, romantic and/or otherwise”.

And that is what shippers do in their minds.  They play out, or fantasize in a kind of a matchmaking psychosis.  And Lucinda and Dorinda, along with being multiple personalities, suffered from this shipping disorder.  Especially in regards to Abby Shields and the fictional character she played in “Fortress”, along with her costar and/or the character he portrayed.  Those two television personalities, or four if you prefer to include the real with the fictional, were the focus of Lucinda’s and Dorinda’s shipping obsessions.

Therefore it was extremely important to Lucinda and Dorinda, that Abby Shield’s be romantically involved with her former costar and remain so forever and ever; even though in real life those two actors couldn’t stand each other.  Of course, Lucinda and Dorinda weren’t aware of just how much Abby Shields despised her former costar.  They assumed that these two were madly in love with each other, just as the characters they played.  To them, if Abby’s fictional character on the show loved the fictional character Adam Fortress, then if must follow that the real life Abby Shields must also love the real life actor who played Adam Fortress.  It was completely unthinkable to them that any other reality could or should exist.  And if anything happened to interfere with that reality it should be snuffed out immediately to get these two, Abby and her former costar, back together again.  And of course it was also essential and incumbent upon the network, the one that aired the show, to have the television series itself continue where it had left off, churning out one insipid episode after another, on into infinity.

Naturally, Lucinda and Dorinda were both horrified when they found out the show was being cancelled at the end of its present season.  And that after this season’s 23rd episode airing there would be no more episodes of Fortress produced for these two crazed shippers to watch and live their lives vicariously, through the adventures of Adam Fortress and the love of his life; the character that Abby Shields played, that character’s name being Belinda Smith by the way.

“I can’t believe it”, whined Lucinda, as she peered into Mary’s bathroom mirror, so Dorinda could not only hear her words, but see the pained expression on her face to fully appreciate her anguish, “it took four whole seasons for those two”, meaning Adam Fortress and Belinda Smith, “to finally get together”, meaning romantically together, “and now they”, “they” probably meaning the network executives, “are cruelly wrenching them away from us FOREVER!!!”

“What can be done Lucinda?” asked Dorinda’s personality, peering into the same mirror right back at her. 

“We need to stop this train before it leaves the station!” demanded Lucinda.

“But it looks like it has already left the station”.

“Then we need to pull the break cord and make the engineer put that train into reverse”.

“How?!” now pleaded Dorinda.

“Do you know how to shoot a gun?” asked Lucinda.

“No”.

“There must be a how to video on gun shooting somewhere on YouTube”, puzzled Lucinda. 

“What do you want to shoot at?” Dorinda asked of the other personality, trying to restrain the fear and the trembling in her voice.

“Not what, but who?” was Lucinda’s answer to Dorinda’s question, with yet another question.

“If I could only get an Equity Card”:

It had now been nearly two years since Ronny Loomis took Darla Lankershim’s advice to emulate George Rook and now he was presently off book on several musical roles commonly being revived on the amateur stage in Orange County California. 

In fact, some of these characters were frequently revived on professional tours, but not having a Actor’s Equity Card Ronny Loomis was still making his way on amateur venues in the Big Orange, but unlike George Rook, who distained the idea of ever turning professional, Ronny dreamed of becoming a pro.  But to be a pro with a union card, i.e. become a member in the Actors Equity Association, he would have to somehow land a professional gig (as he liked to call acting jobs).  But, and this was a very big “But”, to land a professional gig he had to have an Actor’s Equity card.  It was the old Catch 22 routine.  To be in the union you had to have a job, but to have a job you had to be in the union.  Of course, there are ways to get around this seemingly impossible and paradoxical dilemma, or the world would soon run out of Equity actors and rest assured that will never be the case.  As long as there is a Midtown Manhattan Theatre District and/or an Ahmanson Theatre at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, along with everything else professional in between, above and below, there will always be Equity actors.  And this in spite of all the obstacles put in front of them to make that fact not so.  There are always far more Equity actors than there are Equity jobs to give them.  Sadly, a whole lot more. 

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that those very same union actors, once they have landed themselves safely into the AEA, with their prized Equity cards clutched tightly in their grubby little Actor’s Equity hands, would then somehow devise clever ways to thin the herd, i.e. to pull that Actor’s Equity Association ladder right up from behind themselves.  With all the poor non-union sods like Ronny Loomis, who are even more numerous, jumping as high as they can possibly manage, to grab the bottom rung on that very same elusive union ladder.

Now getting back to what Ronny Loomis was able to accomplish, with quite a lot of hard work on his part mind you, was the fact that he was now “off book” on ten frequently casted roles in musical theatre revivals.  Here’s the list in no particular order.

The Major General in Pirates of Penzance.

Mr. Laurence in Little Women the Broadway Musical

Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady

King Pellinore in Camelot

Sir Sagramore in Camelot

The Narrator/Mysterious Man in Into the Woods

Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge the Musical

Jacob Marley in Scrooge the Musical

and

Danvers Carew in Jekyll and Hyde the Musical

And he was also working to become off book on many others, which will not be listed here. 

Looking at this list one can’t help but notice similarities in Ronny Loomis’ and George Rook’s personal repertoire.  Well, Darla did say that Ronny should emulate George Rook and emulate him he did; for the most part.  Interestingly enough, George Rook had never caught on to the fact that he was being mirrored.  He did however wonder why Ronny Loomis was frequently vying for the same exact roles he used to portray and sometimes still did.  He also couldn’t help but notice how much improved Ronny Loomis was during call backs and he then wondered what had happened to cause such a change in Ronny. 

Suffice it to say Ronny Loomis had not given up Darla’s Lankershim’s secret advice to him, not to George Rook, nor to anyone else.  

It’s important to note that sometimes, albeit only occasionally, Ronny managed to best George in the call backs and steal certain roles right out from under him.  George never resented Ronny for beating him out for certain parts.  When Ronny did so, it was fair and square.  Plus George Rook always respected another actor’s talent when he saw it and Ronny Loomis obviously had talent. 

Back to the elusive Equity Card:

How can I get my Equity card?  Ronny would often ponder at night before slipping away into that hazy oblivion most people like to call “sleep”.  And one night, just as his eye lids closed and he was beginning to slip away into dreamland, his eye lids suddenly opened wide.

“I know!” said Ronny as he shouted out loud to himself and sprang up from his pillow, sitting straight up in bed.  “I’ll record my best musical number on YouTube!” he then said, meaning the “Pretty Women” duet from “Sweeney Todd”.  “Then I will send links to it around to professional touring companies that are doing Sweeney Todd right now!  Capital idea Ronny my boy!!!” he yelled agreeing with himself.

Here are a few missing pieces to Ronny’s brainstorm, those which he hadn’t said to himself out loud.  Rest assured, there was a method to his madness.  You see it had suddenly occurred to Ronny, again before drifting off to sleep, that he could use his “off book” status on the Judge Turpin character in Sweeney Todd, and for that matter for any of the other sundry characters he was presently off book on, as leverage to get him his Equity card. 

When going up against a system set up to dissuade you from doing precisely that, a system that consciously puts road blocks in your way, you are forced to go around those road blocks from different directions, i.e. sometimes sideways, or other times even from the rear.  If they won’t let you in the front door, you need to find a side door, and if that side door is locked, go around to the back door, and if it is locked too, kick it open!  And Ronny Loomis now figured out a way to do just that.

Sometimes actors and actresses will use their youth and beauty to get an equity card; it’s a well trodden path.  While some will use their charm and charisma at cocktail parties and sadly some will even use the casting couch.  Still others will use their exceptionally good athletic skills to parlay a career in show business by becoming a ringer on the golf course, to help some producer win a bet with his cronies.  Ronny Loomis was neither young, or exceptionally good looking, nor was he particularly charming at cocktails parties, besides he never got invited to such soirées in the first place, and he didn’t know how to play golf. 

But he did have one ace up his sleeve, actually ten at the moment.  He had Judge Turpin and all those other characters learned, daily rehearsed and swimming around in his head.  So the following scenario suddenly occurred to Ronny Loomis in the blink of an eye.  Here is his epiphany in his own words, spoken to himself later that night, out loud while his plan was being formulated.  Observe while he tries to make himself think like a tour director and/or a producer.  It should be noted that Ronny liked to talk to himself out loud a lot, especially when all alone. 

“What if I was a tour director or a producer on a Sweeny Todd show, an equity production of Sweeney Todd.  Now let’s just say the guy playing Judge Turpin breaks his leg, not figuratively as in the good luck aphorism, ‘Break a leg buddy while you’re playing the Judge’, but literally as in ‘Oh my dear God, our Turpin just broke his leg falling off the upper deck platform’.  Not that I should wish for such a calamity to befall any production, per se.  That would be wrong.  But let’s face it, accidents happen all the time.  And Sweeney Todd productions, for some mysterious reason, seem to be much more accident prone than many other shows are statistically.

“Of course, it doesn’t have to be a broken leg that will create an opening in a show. Maybe the guy playing Judge Turpin will get sick, God forbid, or better yet something more benign.  Like the guy playing Turpin will get a wonderful job opportunity elsewhere and beg to be let out of his contract.  Or the run of the show is being extended, but the guy playing Judge Turpin only agreed to the terms of the original contract as it was written.  He wants to move on with his life.  It could happen!

“Now what am I to do in such a situation?  What if I, as the director and/or producer, do not have enough time to train up a new Turpin?What will I do?  I will need to find a replacement on the double quick, somebody who already knows the part.  Now remember, I’m a cheap s.o.b. and I haven’t taken the precaution to hire enough properly trained understudies, especially union ones to cover Turpin’s part.  Maybe Sweeney’s part and/or Mrs. Lovett’s part, but not Turpin’s for crying out loud.  What will I do?  What will I do?!!

“I know!” exclaims Ronny Loomis, in the guise of the pretended director and/or producer, while restraining a chuckle.  “Somebody get me that guy on YouTube on the line!!  The one that sings like Turpin!!!  The one that claims to be off book!!!  We still have him on file don’t we??”

“But boss, his secretary will complain”, now answers Ronny Loomis in falsetto to that imaginary director and/or producer.  “He doesn’t have an Equity Card!”

“Well, we’ll just have to do something about that, won’t we, Miss Moneypenny”, now explains Ronny Loomis, to that imaginary secretary, in his best Sean Connery ala James Bond voice.

 

 

 


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