Oh Diogenes!

Final Dress.

The Boys from Syracuse, Worcester Academy, spring of 1994.

I am playing the role of the Courtesan, which is what happens when you’re a curvy alto. You play the nag, the mother, or the whore.

We, myself and my four courtesan underlings, are fully costumed, in orange togas, slit up the front from mid-calf to just under the bustline, under which we wear yellow leggings. To set me apart as Chief Among Whores, I have a chunky, gold-link belt slung on my hips. The belt is pinned at the back, since as a singing, dancing lady of ill-repute, I do a big kick line number in the eleventh hour, and the costumers don’t want the belt bouncing and knocking off the blue jewel I have pasted above my navel.

Yes. A blue navel-jewel.

So, the rehearsal is running well–which, for anyone not in the theatre, is a bad sign, and my big number is up. The whore’s jazzy plea for an honest john. I’m ready, the girls are ready…

The choreography goes well, the vocals go well, we’re in time with the pit… we link arms for the kick line. Right knee, right toe flexed, left knee, left toe flexed… right knee, right toe flexed…

And like a spinning galaxy in a model of the universe, I watch the belt twist and arc up–out over the proscenium extension…

Left knee, left toe flexed…

It flashes in the follow-spot as it hits the apex and begins to fall…

Right knee, right toe-flexed…

Into the lap of the bassist, who’s also my music theory teacher.

Jazz hands uuuuuuupp!! And hold!

As the lights fade and we scurry offstage, we’re met with snorts, chortles and guffaws… and that’s just from the pit. The cast and crew are in silent hysterics. But I hold my head high, giggling and blushing scarlet.

I never missed a note.

And a wardrobe malfunction is a good sign. Screwing up in final dress means you’re more likely to be on your game opening night.

And opening night was great. I vamped it up, hit my smoke-bomb cues, smooched the leading man, and made it to the eleventh hour number.

We took our places in the dark, feet on our glow-tape marks, and as the scene lights come up for the intro to the song I see, where none had been before, a hard hat on the bassist.

I never missed a note.

But I never lived it down either.

To this day, when I see that particular teacher at alumni events, I am reminded of my belt flying into his lap when I was 17.

Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life.

Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself?

Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?

19 responses to “Oh Diogenes!

  1. Im laughing even more now than I was when you told the story to John over twitter.

  2. As one who also did theatre, this had me rolling.

    But hey, at least it wasn’t after the show opened in front of the audience.

    It can always be worse.

    Way to stay in character. Some of my favorite moments running shoes are the ad libs and covering you have to do if tech or someone screws up.

  3. lol! I didn’t do much theatre when I was young. But I do recall this play in 3rd grade where the cat (my classmate)was supposed to chase the mouse (me), off stage, round the front by the audience and then up the other side of the stage. I made it…but he never showed. So I stood on stage wondering what to do. Turns out he got caught up in a curtain stage right and only emerged once I popped back on stage from left 🙂 It didn’t have quite the same effect, him chasing no one

  4. i remember that!! but sadly i didn’t see it as i was backstage getting ready to pull the curtain. but still i remember the giggles and also the “oh shit” over the headset. i believe uttered by JTH

  5. I love this story more now than when you first relayed it to me . . . and I’ve never done the Boys from Syracuse, but you better believe I’m looking for the next community theater performance. And for hard-hat rental fees 🙂

  6. That is hilarious!!

    Good for you staying in character.

  7. You belted the bassist, you diva you!

  8. I will remain in awe of those of you who can run through your lines, songs, whatev, when you are faced with these moments of pure hilarity! I could never have kept myself together. I was never one for the stage, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Great story, oh so very funny!

  9. I love that he wore a hard hat for the opening performance! That’s awesome. And good for you – the show must go on. I’ll never forget my dance teacher telling us when I was like 6 to never stop dancing no matter what. She told us a story about a wardrobe malfunction of the Janet Jackson kind where she just kept going and fixed it as she danced and smiled. Oy.

  10. I got so nervous when that belt went flying I went back to read again to make sure your costume would actually stay on without it! As a theatre girl I was with you every step of the way. What I love is the sense of humor everyone had, you, the crew, your fellow actors and of course your music theory teacher! This could have been one of those really terrible moments that people never let go if they had been meanies.

  11. Good for you for keeping it together- that must have been so hard!

    And oh my the hard hat- well played and seriously? Well told. 🙂

  12. How you managed to hold it together and not die laughing on stage is beyond me. I would have lost it when I saw the hard hat. And what on earth did the audience think about the bassist’s headgear?

    Well written. Your first sentence? Perfection.

  13. See, that is what separates those who do theater from those who watch it. If that happened to me, I would have dissolved in red faced giggles, thus ruining the performance 🙂

  14. Hee! I wonder if along with the hard hat he was also wearing a cup?


  15. I love the humorous approach you took with this, and that everyone was so good natured about it.

  16. Oh, if only my worst wardrobe malfunctions were of the theater variety…

    I, too, spent high school on the stage. Never lost a belt, but had my fair share of embarrassing moments.

    I was the girl who could sing but not act (at all. seriously. suckage of the worst kind).

    I salute you, Chief Among Whores. And wish I could’ve shared the spotlight with you. Or at least one good smoke bomb…

  17. Oh my god…. At least they didn’t also put out orange cones.

    The curvy alto also plays the role of Ruth in Pirates of Penzance.

    Some of them.

    Still dying!!! hehehehehe

  18. I love that you never missed a note. So awesome.

    And I was always the mother or the nag. Never the whore. I would have liked to, but that didn’t happen until a hilarious director tilted his head at me, studied me and said, “Vampire whore.” I was thrilled.

  19. Pingback: The Pee Church, or Sprinting in Red Heels | Move Over Mary Poppins!

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