Looking sharp, bow tie in place (bow ties are cool), ready for an adventure, I arrived around 7:20.
My Uber dropped me off slightly down the street from Theatre 80 St. Marks. As the more optimistic voices in my head said, the ones who fight a neverending battle of telling the other voices “Stop envisioning worst-case scenarios, it’s probably going to be fine, it is almost always fine,” it was fine. Nobody cared that I didn’t make it by 7:15. The box office ladies pleasantly handed me my passport, one of them escorted me partway into the theatre, where another cast member was lurking about. I would later learn he played Minky’s brother, Bennie. Bennie didn’t have a big role in the comic, but having him in the show likely proved useful.
From what I could tell, each or at least many of the characters that the audience follows have a secondary character. To help corral the guests from place to place, or escort us to scenes where it wouldn’t make sense for the primary character to go.
By way of a for instance, if you’ll forgive jumping ahead a little, Bess Houdini was flanked by her fast-talking attorney, Bernard Ernst Esquire (who also minded her pet bird, which was plush and also mechanical and maybe a little creepy). While Bess was feeling poorly, it was Bernard who took us to see a séance with Margery of Boston. When Bess needed privacy, Bernard led us to our next area. I assume it worked the same with Bennie and Minky.
Okay. Where was I. Ah yes. I’m introduced to Bennie in the theatre’s lobby, and he’s told that tonight I’ll be traveling with Bess Houdini.
“Ah,” says Bennie. “I believe I saw her in the bar. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
Cue the momentary burst of panic. Good panic but still. I was about to be introduced to Robyn Adele Anderson. Well, no, I was about to be introduced to Bess Houdini, who was being played by Robyn Adele Anderson, but still, I would be shaking hands with Robyn Adele Anderson… she’d say hi and then I…
Should I be playing a character, I wondered? No, no, that’s… they have actors, actors with a script, don’t try to take over the show… not that we would, I reassured myself, we in no way crave the spotlight enough to try to steal it… in fact we normally loathe audience participation, so there’s no risk of– oh shit that hallway was short we’re in the bar
As she took my hand, any notion of trying to do a bit fled my mind, torching the bridges behind it. I did introduce myself as “Daniel,” something I never do… in fact there was a bit of an epic tantrum over the issue when I was 10, but in my
The preceding two paragraphs are brought to you by how hard my brain abandoned me while Robyn– Bess, sorry– was talking to me. Forming coherent thoughts was a challenge.
A quick gin and tonic from the bar helped things.
A few vintage ditties on the accordion from the lovely and talented Erica Mancini…
…and it was time to head into the theatre.
Next page: The Show Begins