Thespians of past, present, future come together on the stage of Gillam Center
I always hate the Monday after wrapping up a musical.
At least one song from the show is always stuck in my head.
I cannot get “Miracle Monk” from the most recent LCCT production, “Monky Business,” out of my consciousness. My friend, Jeramy Oropeza, whom I’ve known since he was a little fella, really blasted it out from the Gillam Center stage in the Laurens County Community Theatre’s very successful two-week run of the musical comedy.
Just fair warning here, our director, Kris McHone, has found “Monky Business 2,” so the monks might not be done, yet. God spared St. Bernard’s monastery in the final scene of “Monky Business.”
We had a great cast of Jim Barton, reprising his role from the last time LCCT did this show 17 years ago, Randy Randall, Lesslie Blakely, Graham Szymanski (in a triumphant return to LCCT) and Jeramy, along with us Voices and our musicians. Our set was minimal, though you wouldn’t know it judging by how long it took to strike it Saturday evening.
We had to make way for “101 Dalmatians,” coming up in April featuring a cast of 93 main characters and a whole bunch of dogs, of all sizes and breeds (just a handful of characters are not dogs).
Community support of LCCT allows the theater company to do community outreach - all District 56 and 55 first grades and the 4K students of the Thornwell Learning Center will have the chance to see “101 Dalmatians.” For some, it will be their first-ever exposure to live theater. From these audiences, we hope to bring forth the next generation of actors and musicians.
I was pleasantly surprised with “Monky Business.”
On the first read-throughs, it seems to me to be little more than slap-stick. Then, I heard Abbott Costello (Jim Barton) sing about the faith and loyalty of the monastery’s patron saint, Bernard (Saint Bernard, get it; big, beer-toting dog, get it?) and it all started to come into focus.
How Satan can use our own vanity against us. How God can find His way into the least likely location. How even when one of us goes astray, there still can be a place for camaraderie, whether it’s a made-up monastery or the whole human race.
It is not a religious play. It was, for me, however, a play of lessons.
I’ve never liked musicals. There seems to be no earthly reason for some cowpoke to be busting out with “Oh, what a beau-ti-ful mornin’” at the drop of a hat. That is just a very foreign concept to someone like me who is more attuned to drama and dark comedy.
I have been in more than 20 plays, and just once have I sung on stage. All my directors know, and I tell them going in so nobody’s embarrassed, I cannot sing - at all. I have a great voice and, finally, a director gave me my just and fair role - The Voice of God. I look forward to reprising God whenever anyone wants me to.
I had a terrible cold during the first two performances of “Monky Business” two weeks ago, so “my God” was not the best it could have been. By last Saturday, I was nailing it - we all were - and the audiences could not have been better in giving us feedback. Slowly, I am coming to embrace the art form of musicals.
Thank you, everyone who saw “Monky Business.” Thank you, LCCT, the City of Clinton and Thornwell, for making the Gillam Center Laurens County’s resident theater.
I won’t see you in “Dalmatians” but it’s going to be a blast. You’ve got to come back to see that evil, cruel, heartless “person” - Cruelle di Vil - bust into song at the drop of a hat. That, and about 80 of the cutest dogs ever lined up all over the stage, is worth the price of admission.
(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. His columns appear monthly in The Clinton Chronicle and Blogs at MyClintonNews.com. Contact him at 833-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)