The Amateur Actors of Orange County

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

Lucinda and Dorinda wait for their chance to strike, while George Rook waits for his chance to get away from "Mr. Stage Fright".

Chapter 17 (v.1) - “Little Women, the Harbor Boulevard Musical”

Submitted: April 17, 2017

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Submitted: April 17, 2017



“Little Women, the Harbor Boulevard Musical”

Well it was Friday Night and Darla Lankershim’s revival of “Little Women, the Broadway Musical” was debuting at her playhouse in Fullerton.  In attendance was Sam Witherspoon himself, seated in a place of honor three rows back, in a seat of his own choosing.  And there he sat, 20 minutes before curtain time, attired (as per usual) in one his favorite Armani tuxedos; beaming his West Texas smile, halfway hidden beneath his big bushy mustache and thoroughly enjoying himself while looking over the program.  Getting back to his tuxedo, it was one of his older Armani’s, but it was a classic, and as Sam always liked to put it, “The classics never go out of style”. 

Also present that night, way off on the left side of the auditorium, against the north wall of the playhouse, sat another member of the audience in a seat not of her choosing.  She had requested a seat right down front to be in clear view of the action on stage, but Lonny Balou, who was working the box office that night, informed her that unfortunately all those seats were already taken.  He also informed her that in fact, there was only one unsold seat in the entire house due to a last minute cancellation and it was all the way left against the north wall.  But that fortunately, it was only halfway up the theatre’s main section and not too far from the action on stage.  So the woman reluctantly accepted Lonny’s alternative seating arrangement; hoping that her marksmanship would not be too adversely hampered at that range.  After all she was only going to be wielding a revolver, not a deer rifle.  But as they say, beggars, along with would be assassins who don’t make reservations in advance, can’t be choosers. 

“Do you know what this play is about?” asked Dorinda, as if she were sitting right next to Lucinda in the darkened theatre, waiting for the curtain to rise.  However, since they were both occupying the same seat, in the same exact body, at the same exact time, that would have been physically impossible. 

“Judging from the title, I think it would be safe to assume that it is a play about women who happen to be rather small in stature”, responded Lucinda sardonically.

“Oh, look it's a musical!” Dorinda chirped gleefully.  “It says so in the program”.

“You didn’t know it was a musical?” now asked Lucinda incredulously.

“No, I just noticed that there are songs listed in the program”.

“When you read on the marquee on the building outside, with the letters spelling out ‘Little Women, the Broadway Musical’, didn’t that clue you into the fact that it was a musical?”

“I didn’t read the whole marquee.  I stopped after the ‘Little Women’ part”, now noted Dorinda somewhat sheepish.  She could tell that Lucinda was now starting to get irritable.  Nevertheless, she ran the risk of making Lucinda even more irritable by asking her next question.  “Why are they calling it ‘Little Women, the Broadway Musical’, right now we’re on Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton, not on Broadway which is in New York?  Shouldn’t the program say “Little Women, the Harbor Boulevard Musical?”

“Because, nit wit, it’s a revival.  Do you know what a REVIVAL IS?!”

“When something is done again, somewhere else other than where and when it had been done originally?” now peeped a frightened Dorinda.

“BINGO GENIUS!” now scolded Lucinda, hoping that Dorinda would not ask anymore of her absurdly asinine questions.  She could also see that the two of them were now starting to attract unwanted notice from other members of the audience sitting nearby. Some of whom must now be wondering why this strange woman, sitting by herself, was presently engaged in an argument evidently also with herself.  But even though Dorinda greatly feared annoying Lucinda even further, she just could not stop herself from asking yet another question.

“Do you think Abby is going to sing in the show?  I so hope so.  Oh, look it says so right here in the program.  She is featured in several songs.  Isn’t that exiting?” now beamed Dorinda, trying to lighten the mood.

“Do I need to remind you why we are here tonight?  We’re here to do a job.  Not to enjoy a show”, meaning that “we are here to shoot someone at random to close the show on its opening night, preferably someone on stage in the cast to frighten Abby Shields, i.e. Belinda Smith back into the arms of her one true love, Adam Fortress”.  She had not yet worked out how they were going to force the television network executives to change their minds and somehow “un-cancel” the show, but that bridge would be crossed when they got to it. 

Obviously, what they were trying to attempt was insane, but to Lucinda’s deranged and trouble mind there was a definite method to it.  Personally, Dorinda thought Lucinda’s plan was patently ridiculous, but she kept that opinion to herself, knowing that Lucinda would get quite irritated at her if she expressed it.  She hated being the source of any irritation for Lucinda, although she frequently was in spite of her best efforts not to be.

“Can’t we do both, do the job right after the curtain call?  It may be the last show we will ever see” now quietly, yet desperately, pleaded Dorinda.

“Maybe we will watch some of the first act”, answered Lucinda, before pausing dramatically for more impact, “before we act; now maintain audio silence before you draw anymore attention to ourselves.  If you have something you want to convey, think it to me; don’t say it to me and try not to move your lips when you do”.

“I don’t move my lips when I think”, Dorinda now complained defensively.

“You do when you are trying to think to me.  You even move your lips when you try to read silently and it’s very annoying too, by the way”.

“So do you”.

Why are you talking to me, think to me, STOP TALKING TO ME!!!  ordered Lucinda, but this time using her mind and not her voice.  Nevertheless, although unheard by anyone else in the theatre, that thought came through loud and clear to Dorinda, just as if she had been rudely shouted at. 

Okay! Okay! thought Dorinda right back to her, albeit while she was also moving her lips.

You moving your lips again, now thought Lucinda, who was also moving her lips. Stop doing that.

Darla Lankershim’s greeting to the audience:

Just as Lucinda and Dorinda finished their silent argument with each other, Darla Lankershim stepped out from behind the playhouse’s heavy red curtain to give her usual, obligatory pre-show welcome and introduction to the audience.  Standing backstage, somewhere in a darkened wing, George Rook hoped and prayed she would make it short.  He wanted to get the show underway and be done by 10:00 or so, so he could catch the 10:30 PM, number 43 Bus home.  He dreaded the thought of having to wait for the 11:30 PM Bus, as the 43 Bus during late time hours only ran once an hour.  He now desperately hoped against hope that Darla Lankershim would not decide to wax eloquent and crack several unnecessary jokes and stabs at humor to further prolong her introduction.

Why does she even have to make an introduction in the first place? he thought.  Can’t we just start the show for crying out loud and get on with it?!!

Standing there in the dark George Rook was also getting a bad case of the obligatory Opening Night Jitters and he hated having his nerves racked by these retched pre-show terrors, doubts and fears that had never been completely quelled within his spirit.  It should be noted that despite his many years of performing before various audiences, George Rook had never succeeded in conquering his stage fright.  Facing it and defying it, yes, but never defeating it.  It was an enemy that would only retreat temporarily, only to ambush him again at the very next opportunity.  His stage fright was something he could never get used to.  From day one, when he played Peter Cotton Tail in a kindergarten Easter pageant to this very night, the gala opening of Little Women in Fullerton, his old enemy stage fright had always been there right with him.  Once he got on stage and delivered his first line in a scene, he would be fine.  Something else would then take over, which had nothing to do with fear, but until that moment mercifully came, Mr. Stage Fright, would not stop dogging him.  And George Rook hated that specter almost as much as he loved getting away from it, once he finally did get out on stage.  But right now Darla Lankershim would not cooperate with this desire as her welcome introduction to audience droned on and she continued to promote her playhouse in all its glory and wonder.  You can’t really blame her.  Promoting is what promoters do and Darla Lankershim was anything if not the quintessential promoter.  Let’s face it folks, she was good at what she did, not that her skill in the area of promotion did George Rook’s agonizing stage fright any good. 

Standing in the wing George couldn’t hear everything that Darla was saying to the audience, through the heavy red curtain but he knew she must have said something funny, because she suddenly had them all in stitches with laughter.  Stop it! he then thought, Don’t encourage her! Don’t laugh at her jokes!  Now she’ll be milking all of you for another five minutes. 

At this point, George got curious and opened the curtain slightly to hear better and get a quick look see.

“And now ladies and gentlemen”, continued Darla Lankershim, “I would like to honor a very special person, a lovely man, who happens to be here tonight as our personal guest.  He needs absolutely no introduction other than to say that we all love him here at the Drama Time Playhouse, just as he is also loved by millions of his fans”…

“Oh brother”, mumbled George under his breath, then thought, Great, as if Witherspoon didn’t need anymore ego puffing.  I wonder how long he will be slowing the show down; somebody get the red hook.

“Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Mr. Sam Witherspoon!” 

At which time there was a thunderous applause and the entire audience, taking no particular cue from each other, suddenly stood up in mass; all except for one woman, sitting all by herself near the north wall; looking grim, neither standing or applauding.  George noticed her right off and wondered why she wasn’t joining in with the rest of the Sam Witherspoon worshipers. Then forgetting about her altogether he refocused his attention back to Sam.

“Stand up and take a bow you lovely Sam Witherspoon!!” yelled Darla Lankershim over the applause.”

“Crap, at this rate I’m not even going to make it to the 11:30 Bus!” muttered George Rook.

At Darla’s invitation Sam Witherspoon rose from his seat to greet the crowd.

“Okay Witherspoon, just stand up, nod to crowd, then sit down and shut up” George then mumbled. “This is no time for speechifying”.

“Thank you kindly darlin’ Darla”, greeted Sam, “and may I take this opportunity to add a few kindly words about you and yours?”

“Why surely, Sam”, beamed Darla.

“NO!! Crap!!  I’ll be lucky to make it to the last bus at 12:30.  I’ll be stranded here all night for sure!!”

“Did you say something George?” whispered Abby Shields, who unbeknownst to George Rook, was standing right behind him all the time, watching his throes of agitation with guarded amusement.  Her question startled him and he jerked around to meet her face to face.

“NO.  Nothing!!”

“I could have sworn you were saying something about missing your bus.  Who are you talking to?”

“No one!  Never mind!”

“Do you need a ride home after the show?”


“Are you sure?”

“I’ll be fine”.

“You’re sure you’ll be fine?”

“Just as long as Sam and Darla start shutting up, I’ll be just dandy”.

“Thank you Sam for your very kind words.  Okay folks”, they both now heard Darla Lankershim announce to the audience. “This concludes my greeting, please turn off, and/or silence all electronic devices, i.e. cell phones, etc. and enjoy the show”, and then the audience broke out into more applause.

“Thank God!”, now muttered George Rook.

But after that applause died down she remembered something else, “Oh I forgot to list the other upcoming attractions this season”.

“OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!” now whined George Rook, loud enough to be clearly heard by Darla and rest of the audience, causing some laughter from many of them.

“Is that you George Rook?!” called out Darla Lankershim, from the stage.

“NO!” lied George Rook about his identity, then added.  “Hurry up and finish your intro already!!!”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, that would be the irrepressible Mr. George Rook.  Somehow I think he is getting a little antsy right now.  I’d better do what he says.  We don’t want to make him late for his last bus home tonight after the show”, now informed Darla Lankershim. 

When the audience heard Darla Lankershim’s explanation of George Rook’s dilemma with public transportation they all laughed again, all except that one lone woman, the one sitting next to the north wall.  She was not finding anything funny that night.











© Copyright 2018 Jim Pack. All rights reserved.


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