Final Act in “One Way to Write a Script for Your Club or Singing Group”

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Many of the readers of my blog “One Way to Write a Script for Your Club or Singing Group” (posted about a week back) have asked how the show went, so here’s a quick post-show report.

The show was performed at 2 p.m. sharp this past Sunday in the Showcase Theater at the Marin County fairgrounds (in San Rafael, CA). Seemed like a very happy audience. Our aim was 200+ in the excellent theater, so the roughly 290 there was a real surprise–and a true delight to our Barbershop treasurer, Mike.

The script was about 95% as I described it in that blog, and it unfolded seamlessly, ending in two hours, with a 15-minute intermission about 50 minutes in.

The chorus sounded better than ever. No snafus. Phil DeBar is stickler on precision and had rehearsed us cruelly. If you can imagine, Phil wants both the notes and the words sort of synchronized and in the proper order. He also frowns on us waving to our grandchildren or looking around to see what’s happening in the wings.

There were a few unplanned funny moments. One of our larger leads for some reason stepped into space off the rafters in the middle of a song, so his buddies grabbed him and pulled him back before he disappeared from view. He stood right behind me so all I knew was that he had grabbed my shoulder, then released it. But the show went on…

Joe (David Skibbin) was even funnier than expected, a sad-faced clown who hit every joke, was properly disdainful of the chorus, swaggered and blustered about his 27 girl friends, and in general was a perfect buffer for the songs we sang.

At one point he pulls out a gawdy bouquet of yellow flowers and says that that was how he won his girlfriends’ hearts. That all he had to do was give a truelove a big bouquet and she’d scream with delight! But, unknown to the chorus, we had an actress friend of his in the first row, a foil so when Joe made a swooping gift of his flowers to her in the audience, she jumped up and down, screamed with joy, and properly alarmed all of the paid patrons near her, to a huge laugh from the cast and the audience.

We also decided that when Joe says that he got the very best chicks when he went to Coney Island, and we would sing Coney Island Baby, the chorus would pull something out of their pockets (or pick it up from the rafters at their feet, out of sight), to simulate going to Coney Island. Most plopped on ball caps, towels, a lifesaver, or another gaudy item. I envisioned these falling off or flying away or creating mass bedlam, but it came off without a hitch, and brought another big laugh.

I almost had a heart attack when, in the middle of Joe’s monologue, a quartet emerged from the rafters and lined up by the mic, ready to sing. Too early. Just as they lined up, one of the chorus singers, on cue, shouted out a planned line to Joe, asking to hear those jokes that he had used to woo his many heartthrobs. So Joe told three funny jokes to the audience, and looked over at the quarter several times like they had been picked to come down and hear the bad jokes. Then Joe looked at them, shook his head, and walked away. The group sang, and we were right on schedule…

The only other thing was that we hadn’t worked out the stage managing (I guess others thought it was my job, and I presumed someone else had been chosen since I was up there singing). So I directed the order of the groups coming and going on stage in the second act, and asked Joe (then off stage) to pull the curtain open when the barbershoppers sang a couple of songs to end the performance, so I could get back in the group.

All went fine until all of the quartets and guest acts were acknowledged and joined the chorus to collectively sing the show closer, “Keep the Whole World Singing.” Just as that was to began, out walked Joe to tell the M.C. that he had forgotten to introduce the star! It dawned on me that my curtain-puller was now bowing and would join the singers! I took a quick look off stage and there was the curtain rope but no puller! I envisioned the group bowing about 400 times until somebody caught on. Instead, not trusting fate, I walked off stage (I was hoping that shortness equaled unobtrusiveness) and pulled the curtain when the song ended, then opened it for a final fast last group bow, and pulled it again. Better to feel a bit stupid by walking out during a song than the alternative!

That’s it. The script came off just as hoped. The chorus members and Phil had about a dozen lines, one per person, and nobody passed out, pulled out a script to read the line, or even mumbled. And Joe was perfect. The smartest thing we did was find a stage veteran for the star role.

The show was a big success, and the script was only a small part of it. Folks came to hear good Barbershop music, have fun, and cheer the old guys on. And very good music and a fun day they got.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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