The Amateur Actors of Orange County

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

Unfortunately, Lucinda does not understand Spanish, but fortunately, Dorinda does.

Chapter 18 (v.1) - The Resistance Begins

Submitted: May 09, 2017

Reads: 81

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Submitted: May 09, 2017



The Resistance Begins

Having just read the previous chapter, some readers might be puzzled by the concerns of George Rook, i.e. his wanting to leave the playhouse right after the curtain call to catch the very next 43 Bus that came along.  Was there more to that wish other than those concerns already alluded to?  Maybe.  Alright yes. 

There is a theatrical tradition to have a cast party of some sort right after an opening night performance; nothing formal, just an informal get together for the cast and crew to celebrate this time honored milestone in the life of a show.  And this being the case Darla Lankershim, knowing full well George Rook’s propensity to evade such festive traditions with his usual excuses such as, “I can’t go to the cast party because it is at so and so’s house in Tustin (or Brea, or some other inconvenient city) and so I can’t get home on the bus system from there.  I need to get on the next bus passing by the playhouse, or I might get stranded on some cold frigid sidewalk overnight, until the buses start running again the next morning”, or various words to that effect.  A similar excuse she had heard many times before, but this time Darla had developed a clever strategy to circumvent such a ploy.

Now, in all fairness to George Rook, this ploy wasn’t completely untruthful.  If the party was held at, say Darla’s Lankershim’s house in Yorba Linda, there would be no way he could get home on any bus from that location, even in broad daylight; unless he was willing to walk for several miles to the nearest bus stop to catch the number 30 Bus, operating on a rather limited weekend schedule.  So in that regard George did have a salient point. 

However, you might wonder, why not offer him a ride home from wherever the party was being held?  Well obviously he would resist anyone’s attempt to do that.  For instance, on the day of the limo ride to the Newport Beach Film Festival from the playhouse, Sam Witherspoon was also planning to have one of the limo drivers take George Rook home when the festival ended; a veritable first class door to door service.  But George Rook, already not wanting to be beholding to his movie star friend anymore than he was already, now that he was wearing Sam Witherspoon’s secondhand Armani tuxedo, slyly slipped away from the festival shortly before it concluded.  And so without saying a word to anyone, he boarded the north bound 71 Bus to Chapman Avenue and from there the west bound 54 Bus home. Providing quite a sight for the other passengers on each bus that evening; it’s not everyday you see someone riding on the OCTA Bus System wearing a tailored $4,000.00 Armani tuxedo. 

When George Rook previously indicated that he did not like taking charity, he meant it; and he considered free rides home to be a terrible form of charity, but oddly enough not to the pier.  Go figure?  He was always happy to get a free ride to the pier if the halibut were running. 

George Rook also did not like cast parties, intensely so, or any social get together for that matter; unless you consider performing on stage in front an audience, comprised mostly of strangers, a “social get together”.  Technically it is, but of an entirely different sort.

Understandably given George Rook’s outlook on such things, it is a wonder that he even cooperated with Sam Witherspoon’s invitation to be his guest at the film festival at all, especially when it entailed his acceptance of an expensive gift.  That being the Armani tuxedo specifically altered to fit him.  Nevertheless, George rightly realized not to attend the festival would be a tremendous insult to Sam, so therefore feeling trapped by his loyalty to an old friend, quite possibly his only real friend, he went without complaint and donned the unwanted Tuxedo.  However, that was as far as he would allow the charity to extend and he then quietly left the event when he felt the coast was clear, and did so without offering a single word of congratulation to Sam Witherspoon for receiving his lifetime achievement award.

Obviously, by this stage in their friendship, Sam Witherspoon knew quite well George Rook’s propensities to evade social and emotional situations, therefore he took no offense to George’s seeming lack of appreciation for his achievement award.  He was also not surprised to hear of George’s sudden departure just after the event ended and that George had left the building with no congratulations forthcoming from his old friend.  Their friendship was by no means based on mutual admiration, or anything even approaching sycophancy; at least not on George Rook’s part it was.  Sam Witherspoon would often compliment George on any remarkable fish that he might have landed from out of the surf in front of Sam’s beach house.  And he did compliment George when he saw his amateur friend perform in Jekyll and Hyde the Musical, the only other time Sam Witherspoon had ever witnessed George Rook perform on stage, prior to this evening’s entertainment of Little Women.

Getting back Darla:

So what was Darla Lankershim’s solution to George Rook’s aversion to charitable rides home from cast parties?  Or even attending said cast parties in the first place?  She was having the event catered at the playhouse itself, in the backstage area, as soon as the show ended and the audience had drifted away for the night. 

She figured on the party commencing at approximately 10:30 to 10:45 PM.  And had also looked up the bus route schedule for the south bound 43 on the internet in advance, realizing that George would try to use this bus’s week night schedule as an excuse to leave early and not to attend the party at all.  At which point, she would then remind him that the last south bound 43 Bus, which would be stopping right in front of the playhouse, didn’t embark until 12:30 in the AM; giving George Rook the opportunity to attend said party for nearly two hours, at least.

The only way George Rook could now get out of the party would be to fain some sort of illness, or just plainly state, “I want to go home because I don’t like cast parties”.  But Darla felt she knew George well enough to know that he would not do that.  His barely contained civility would not allow himself to be that blunt.  Or at least she hoped it wouldn’t. 

So Darla Lankershim developed her plan to hold the cast party at the playhouse itself, leaving nothing to chance in her attempt to see to it that everyone in the cast and crew, even George Rook, attended the party in the best traditions of the American Theatre; baring some completely unforeseen interference, like say an unexpected assassin’s bullet striking one of her actors through the heart, or some other vital organ, while the show was still being performed on stage.  But who in their right mind looks for, or even anticipates, an insane occurrence like that to happen?

And so the house lights dimmed and the MTI soundtrack overture for Little Women began in earnest.  SHOWTIME!!! 

There was no live orchestra to provide the musical’s background instrumentals that night, or any other night at the Drama Time Playhouse for that matter.  The execution of these highly important musical interludes would be accomplished electronically by Lonny Bajou.  He would be performing these wonders, all by himself, while manning the sound board.  Lonny was an indispensible work horse at the playhouse who wore many hats in so many different productions there, i.e. assistant director, some time stage manager, box office cashier, gofer, grip, carpenter, costume seamster, prop assistant, lighting technician, snack bar concessionaire and at this particular moment in time, sound technician.  Naturally, with him being so indispensable at the playhouse, he was continually running from one battle station to the next, putting out one fire after another; figuratively speaking of course.  So far the playhouse had never experienced an actual fire; knock on wood.  However if it ever had a fire, it is almost certain that Lonny Balou would be there, in the thick of it, fighting back the flames until the fire department arrived to relieve him of that duty.  Lonny Balou did almost everything at the playhouse that could be done, except performing on stage; that was not his forte.  And had not then ever actually directed a show.  He hadn’t been tapped to do that assigned duty.  But, hope springs eternal, he had high hopes that someday he might be.  He definitely deserved his shot in that regard.

Not to confuse Lonny with Ronny:

At this particular juncture, while Lonny Balou was bringing up the overture, he was leaving his box office duty to be manned by another. In this case that would be Ronny Loomis, who obviously wasn’t casted to be in Little Women on this evening, the Opening Night.  Ronny had wanted to land the same part of Mr. Laurence, as did George Rook, but George had beaten him out, well almost.  He was the understudy for the part.  He might as well be since, as with George Rook, he new all the lines and lyrics already.  Naturally, only Ronny and Darla Lankershim new this little secret, so she pulled him aside when he was sweeping the stage one night and asked if he would like to be assigned understudy duty for the Mr. Laurence part.  And as an extra added inducement, Darla would have George Rook stand down on a couple of matinees, giving Ronny a chance to shine and get his feet wet actually portraying Mr. Laurence in front of a live audience.  He wouldn’t be understudying for any other role in the show, for as with George Rook, Mr. Laurence was the only part that Ronny Loomis was right for.  Nevertheless, Ronny Loomis was exceedingly grateful for Darla giving him at least two opportunities to perform in Little Women and being the sport that he was he also volunteered to help out behind the scenes (which he was going to be doing anyway), until those two matinee opportunities arrived.  That’s why he was relieving Lonny Balou in the box office that night.

George Rook for his part didn’t mind giving up two matinees to Ronny Loomis; left up to him he would have given Ronny all the matinees.  He never liked performing in matinees anyway. 

Not to forget Lonny Balou:

Now getting back to that man of many hats, Lonny Balou, as already noted he was presently manning the sound booth and now busied himself cueing up various instrumentals and quite a daunting task it was too, at times even hair raising. Especially when (God forbid) wrong cues were given, or when the correct cues slipped by unnoticed, even with his eyes being continually glued to the script under a bright light, via an orchestra lamp clamped onto the top of his soundboard.  Thankfully these miscues only happened occasionally on Lonny’s watch, but still from time to time they would indeed rear their ugly little heads, making for some very tense moments for him to immediately dispense with.  But Lonny had nerves of steel when it came to making emergency decisions in his little darkened sound booth. That is why he was so good at this task, i.e. sound boarding.  A task he was never paid a single dime for, along with all of his other assigned duties.  For like all the actors in the show, he was there for the love of it, not for the money in it. 

George and Lonny:

George Rook and Lonny Balou were never good buddies.  They never joked or hung out with each other after shows, nevertheless they did respect each other’s abilities.  It was a welcomed sight for George Rook whenever he saw Lonny Balou climbing into his little sound booth.  Seeing someone else at the helm in that dark little room gave George Rook one more thing to worry about and he didn’t like having one more thing to worry about. A sound tech not taking his job seriously could spell disaster on any given night and Lonny Balou, although flippant on other occasions, took sound cueing deadly serious.

An irrelevant factoid:

By the way, just to back up a few paragraphs, MTI stands for Musical Theatre International, the publishing company that was supplying the sound track under a special licensing agreement with the playhouse.  They were also the ones supplying the playhouse with all the rented librettos, provided to each member of the cast to learn their parts during the production’s rehearsal period.  That list included George Rook and Ronny Loomis so they could sometimes pretend to be learning their parts that they knew already.  A pretence that wasn’t adhered to this time out by George Rook for some reason, as everybody in the cast could tell he knew his role on day one of rehearsals.  Maybe he was getting tired of pretending to be something he wasn’t and stop worrying about people thinking that he was a showoff.  Ronny Loomis, on the other hand, still kept up his pretense, not wanting George Rook to think that he was being copied and per Darla Lankershim’s wishes as well.

Beside the performers in the show, the tech crews also had their copies of the libretto to help them run the lights and sound and in the case of Darla Lankershim to direct and preplan.  Not that this irrelevant factoid has any bearing on the rest of the storyline, other than to show how things are done on a shoe string within a company of musical actors, which can not afford the cost expenditures of a live orchestra. 

Only along for the ride, but then again…

When the house lights dimmed and Lonny Balou started to bring up the overture from off the soundtrack, Lucinda decided to take advantage of that brief moment of darkness in the house and check on her firearm, resting in a holster which was slung down below her left shoulder, concealed within a sport jacket she had chosen to wear for that evening.  She was not prepared to wield the weapon just yet, however.  She was simply trying to reassure herself that when the time did come, she would not be experiencing any encumbrances to interfere with the action of drawing it out. 

Now as to the reason the weapon was hanging below her left shoulder?  That was because she was right handed.  Interestingly enough, unlike Lucinda, Dorinda was left handed; making for a much more awkward movement if she had wanted to pull on the weapon, which she most certainly did not.  At this stage of the game, Dorinda was just along for the ride; helplessly so.

¿Por otra parte, tal vez no?

Just as Lucinda finished checking her weapon, it was at that exact moment, when the overture was ending and the stage lights were beginning to come up to reveal the action on stage, that Dorinda began thinking some other thoughts, but only to herself and only in Spanish.

Why are you thinking in Spanish?!!  You know I don’t understand Spanish?!! demanded Lucinda in an angry thought to Dorinda.

Sé que no puedes entender el español. Por eso lo soy, then thought Dorinda right back to her, further risking Lucinda’s wrath.  No vas a lastimar a nadie esta noche. No si puedo evitarlo.



© Copyright 2018 Jim Pack. All rights reserved.


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