Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

December 2015

Show business: If you catch the bug, it’s hard to shake.

My first appearance on the boards, in the lights, was challenging on several levels. Makeup! I had a white wig and funny knickers and had to get my mouth around a tough new word.

“Preposterous!” proclaimed me as George Washington to Evelyn Hiebink’s Betsy Ross. I didn’t know what it meant, and have never, if ever, used the word again from when I was then a second-grader to now.

No matter, the hook was set, and although I appeared on stage a few more times — a wise man one year and a shepherd the next (demotion? Hardly. There are no small roles, only ...) — my enjoyment of theater arts is as an audience member. I work at it. I shut off my phone, don’t whisper asides during the performance, empathize with all the actors, and try to appreciate the work of the writer, director, and stagehands.

I tell you there is something very different between movie acting and play acting. Movies try to trick you, the audience, into believing the story, while plays want you to watch the actors act and marvel at the sets and costumes.

Operas, I like. Although I have never aspired to be in one, I do like to see and listen to them. Even with the translations, operas are not to be believed, but you can’t miss hearing them.

I sat in the back of the Barre Opera House a couple of summers ago. The ambient light and my failing vision kept me from reading translations of the songs but I got the gist of where they were going with the Cinderella story — very entertaining.

Amateur productions are memorable, often for reasons unintended. Like a Christmas pageant I went to that was famous for including live livestock in the Nativity scenes — camels (plural), a donkey, and sheep, of course. What I most remember is the trick ending, usually kind of a “Joy to the World” songfest but, instead, this one went right to the Crucifixion.

Wow! I get it but I prefer the distance of a Lent between Christmas and Good Friday. The real take-home for me was when a lady a few seats away loudly proclaimed, “Oh, my God! That’s my chiropractor!”

That’s in the memory bag right next to The Book of Mormon.

Merry Christmas and/or season’s greetings to all.