The Quest
Volume 3 Book 7 Part 6 of
Living in the Bonus Round

(Do I have star appeal? Am I a matinee idol yet?)
Theatre On The Square.

[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
 [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

January 28 - February 1, 2004.
Intense Opening Weekend.
The audiences in Indianapolis are intense. We did our first performance on Thursday in front of a live audience and this cast was ready. The comedy was sharp. The energy was great but it still felt to me like we were finding our way around on stage. But I don't think anyone in the audience could see that. They were very enthusiastic and responsive. But this show did not prepare us for what was to come as the weekend unfolded.

The realistic set was designed by Christian McKinney.
Lots of fun thinking went into this. Notice the Doors poster on the door.
Behind Gideon, upper left is a Grateful Deal poster.
And back in the niche, even more appropriately, Cheap Trick.

But below and behind Gideon is a poster with IMAGINE,
John Lennon's memorial in Centra Park New York.

First, the weather here went from icy cold to arctic. One night it got down to 16 below zero -- and that's not counting the wind chill factor. So, as you can see below, my wardrobe wasn't quite ready for this. I thought I knew cold from having done winter in Rochester. This was something else altogether.

Rehearsing in my Hawaiian shirt on first day.
I was the only person in Indianapolis dressed like this.
I don't dress like this now.
I found a Gap lumberjack shirt for $4.

The photos below were shot by our musical director Jay Hinkelman. They are snapshots surreptitiously taken during a performance so the picture quality is not razor sharp, but these are not posed shots so you're catching the play in action. It'll give you a taste of how beautiful this production is. And by the way, these are good actors on this stage with me. They are serious about their craft and fun to be around in the dressing room.

"Let me see your pores." "No sale."
(Tasha Strahan. Julie Powers.)

Tasha has great comedic timing and incredible eyes. Julie Powers's Vicki is Mae West by way of Queen Latifah. When she screams at the Bible, it's even more blood curdling than Amy Coleman's. And that's saying a LOT. Jon Lambert perfectly captures Buddy's vulnerability and goofiness. Meredith Granger, being a radio personality, fills Jim with life and wryness. His comic timing has the audience in the palm of his hand, even from behind that glass.

"They'd think I was the one married to Tammie Faye."
(Jon Lambert.)

Going It Alone.

Opening night was -- you're going to hear this word a lot because I've been using it a lot to describe this experience -- but it was INTENSE. The sobbing in the audience was audible and their emotions flowed like lava from the audience to the stage. The show is obviously tapping a nerve.

"Quiet soldier. Don't ask. Don't tell."
(Meredith Granger as Jim.)

"Sir, I have to say this..."

On our second night, we had our first stage silence after a song -- no applause. It came after Tasha sang "Singer And The Song." And no matter how many times this has happened to me in the past, it's still nothing you can expect and the silence is shocking, and at first, nerve-wracking, but it's the highest sign of audience involvement possible. (If they hate you, you get polite applause -- what Iaan our hairdresser calls the "three-clap.") If they stay completely still, it means they can't breathe and don't want to spoil the moment.

"I've got nothing left to fight with."

"You didn't have the guts to look him in the eye, did you?"

For me personally, on stage, I am finding myself bursting into tears completely unexpectedly. This past week, I learned a chatfriend of mine had just committed suicide. He was someone I had bantered with over the Internet but hadn't met face to face. In the excitement of opening night, I wasn't really thinking about him when I first got on stage. But then, toward the end, when I said, "I have nothing left to fight with," Chuck came to my mind. I just pictured him alone, utterly in despair, defeated. The LONELINESS of this image totally got to me. Since I don't know how he killed himself, the only image I have is imagining his despair leading to the moment and what it would take to make someone go there. My eyes started to sting, my heart felt empty, my throat choked up. It made me feel cold.


The Sunday matinee hit an all-time high for "intensity in the room." No less than four songs ("Save Me A Seat," "The Group," "Going It Alone," "Singer and the Song") all got  Silent Ovations. I probably shouldn't even be talking about this because if a lot of people read this diary and then go see the show it might make them feel self-conscious.

I'll be posting the next entry tomorrow with behind the scenes pictures of the crew. They are SO ADORABLE and SO committed to the project. Most of them are students so we're learning from each other. I'll be making several appearances at surrounding colleges, Anderson University and Indiana University down in Bloomington while I'm here.

And for the record, in case you can't read between the lines, I am having more fun right now than should be legal. I just miss having Jimmy and the cats to come home to. And now that we have a few days off, I can work on the new music and upload/edit new diary entries. If this first weekend was like this, what will it feel like when we hit the stage fresh this next Friday night?

[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
 [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.