Roadshows, Part IIa

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The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

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Oct 29, 2005, 4:59:17 PM10/29/05
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I imagine that it would be difficult for anyone not immersed in East
Coast Mormon culture in the 60s to understand the essence of the milieu
that enveloped roadshows at that time and place. Some of the obvious
characteristics were the production values. Winning roadshows (and no
adult leaders seemed to want to be involved in anything less) were like
miniature Broadway or Hollywood musicals of the 50s. Think: "Oklahoma"
in 15 minutes or less. All singing, all dancing, all performed to music
your parents loved.

Many of the youth leaders were western transplants, so the "Oklahoma"
image often wasn't far off. The costumes for the young men tended to
involve plaid shirts and bolo ties, even though no one my age ever wore
such things in public. Costumes for the women tended to be gingham
skirts with full petticoats. Sets were often elaborate and built to mock
perspective – like the fake store fronts in a western movie (wards would
keep their sets from year to year, adapting the story to fit with the
sets and changing small aspects to fit with the story).

You could drop someone from today into a rehearsal of any one of these
roadshows over a decade and, without prompting, they would say: I'm
stuck in a 1960's roadshow! It was that obvious, that repeatable, that
much stamped out of matching, competing cookie cutters.

That boring, in other words.

After my rather inauspicious involvement with my first roadshow, I
wasn't looking forward at all to my second one.

One evening, there was a meeting at Mutual to discuss that year's
roadshow production. The stake issued guidelines for the shows and for
how the shows would be judged. All roadshows had to include music, with
singing and dancing. All roadshows had to stay within a budget of $40 to
cover the cost of all costumes, materials, props and sets. Roadshows
would be rated based upon the musical and dance numbers, originality of
the script and on adherence to the theme.

The theme was "Great Inventions".

An audible groan went up from the youth. What horrible torture would be
inflicted on us this year, in the name of great inventions?

But this year we had new leaders for both the Young Men's and Young
Women's organizations. And when they heard the groan they said: Wait a
minute. This is your show. What do you want to do with it?

It took a bit for them to convince some of us that they were serious –
they really were going to turn over complete control of the roadshow to
the youth. Everything – plot, script, music, dance, costumes – were all
going to be up to us.

So we put organized into committees and put together ideas on plots that
might be something you could enjoy being involved with.

The historical setting of these events has some influence here. Within
the previous year, a new comic strip had captured a lot of attention
among the youth – it was a brash, wacky and rather quirky strip called
BC, populated with cave men and women.

After a few false starts, as a group we decided to do a BC-style comic
production involving the invention of the wheel.

Everything about the show was as different as we could make it. No
1950s-era musical numbers, no corny dialog, no forcing kids to participate.

Actually that last one turned out not to be a problem. Once we started
working on the show, everyone wanted to be involved. People that didn't
want to be on stage, found things to do with props or costumes or
choreography or sound effects or special effects or something. Kids felt
empowered to do stuff on their own. The night of the production, one of
the kids just showed up with a prop without telling anyone. It turned
out to be one of the highlights of the show. But more about that later.

The plot of the show was – no surprise – fairly dumb. The basic idea is
that Ug-lug, our hero, is bummed out because his mother-in-law (who
never did have a name, IIRC) was run out of her hut but a herd of
dinosaurs and had moved in with Ug-lug and Shega, his wife. The
mother-in-law sleeps all day and eats all night. Ug-lug can't afford to
keep her for much longer.

Ug-Lug's buddies suggest he contact the local genius – a guy named Rocky
Bagsop - for a solution. Rocky cooks up a series of inventions as
possible solutions – all unsuccessful. Serendipity (and Rocky's
stereotypical female assistant) intervenes in the end and Rocky
accidentally invents the wheel while – at the same time – ridding the
neighborhood of dinosaurs, which allows the mother-in-law to go home
(with her new boyfriend, Rocky).

I won't bore you with the script, but the features that were most
noticeable in the production were:

Costumes – everyone wore one-piece outfits made from fake animal skins
(leopard, tiger, and zebra print plush cotton for the most part). They
were all roughly the same pattern – a strap over one shoulder and then a
simple a-line to a ragged hem, often fairly short.

Makeup – most of the make up was just dark foundation applied in globs
to look like dirt. Girls ratted their hair into tangled piles on top of
their head. A couple of the girls stopped shaving their legs to add to
the realism.

Sets – there weren't any. One of the kids painted an incredible
Jurassic-epoch mural on a gigantic piece of canvas that hung
floor-to-ceiling, curtain to curtain at the back of the stage. That was it.

Props – the props were few and (with the one notable exception mentioned
earlier described later) were basically rather ... well, ... primitive.
Center stage there was a stack of firewood supposed to look like an open
fire. Stage right there was a pile of bones – real bones. Parts of the
pile came from the skeleton of a horse than one of the kids found in the
woods, but most of them were large cow leg bones, fresh from a slaughter
house.

Music – there were three main differences in the music. First, the music
was live, with Ug-lug grabbing an electric guitar and one his friends a
Hagstrom bass and others picking up the bones and banging them together
to lay down the beat. Second, it was current rock music; the songs we
parodied were recent popular hits. Third, it was loud. Real loud.

Dance – I think it was the dance that most of the adults remembered. The
Young Women took this on as their personal project. At the appropriate
moment in the play, the women chased the men off the stage and performed
their dance around the fire. It consisted of hopping around, flat
footed, while grunting. It wasn't disorganized – it was very carefully
choreographed and even the grunts were orchestrated like a Gregorian
chant – but it was startlingly --- I guess the best word would be:
original. The tangled hair, the mud streaked faces, the short (perhaps
even skimpy) costumes and the primitive jumping and grunting – combined,
these seemed to leave a lasting impression on audience.

Special effects – we used both sound and technical effects. The sound
effects provided the impression of dinosaurs walking nearby. We used the
sound of someone banging on a sheet of steel while bellowing "Gronk"
into a tape recorder, then added echo and slowed down the tape multiple
factors until the banging sounded like giant, reverberating footfalls
and the call came out as a very low register
G-g-g-g-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-n-n-n-k-k-k. The technical
effects were provided by about a tablespoon of gunpowder used to
simulate a cannon firing at the climax of the show.

Dialog – the dialog was a blend of comic strip and vaudeville. Lots of
one-liners, sight gags, and – dare I say – juvenile humor.

We rehearsed in what amounted to closed rehearsals – all the kids that
came to mutual were involved in one way or anther and the adult leaders
never really got involved. What that means is when we went on stage to
perform this live, no one outside the production had ever really seen
what we were going to do. And that was going to have some repercussions
on future roadshows in the stake.

Next episode: The performance of _The Invention of the Wheel_ or
_Mother-In-Laws are the Necessity of Invention_

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

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Oct 30, 2005, 8:44:26 AM10/30/05
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The official title of my ward's roadshow was:

_The Invention of the Wheel_
or
_Mother-In-Laws are the Necessity of Invention_

When it came down to the time for the actual performance, we found that
the rules had been changed since the previous year. Rather than
traveling to all wards in the stake, we used only two ward buildings and
all the shows would be performed in one building Friday night and
repeated in the other building Saturday night.

We were scheduled to perform last on the first night. The show went off
without a hitch – the music and dance number worked well, the sound
effects and cannon blast worked. Some unexpected things added a level of
realism that we had not planned but still worked out, as far as we were
concerned.

The fresh leg bones, exposed to the heat on the stage and the handling
by the drummers began to ooze blood onto the stage and the hands of the
drummers. We were looking for "real" and "primitive" and these both
applied to these rather disgusting bones.

Also, the explosion for the cannon had not been rehearsed, so the flash,
bang and billowing smoke drew a reaction from the cast of genuine shock
and awe. And, to top it all off, the closing number had most of the kids
in the audience singing along. These were all added benefits to the live
performance.

The closing number comes after Rocky Bagsop has solved the problems with
dinosaurs, with the mother in law and had (accidentally) invented the
wheel. The cast sings a tribute along the lines of:

Who's the guy /
with the high I /
Q for you and me? /
R O C K E Y B A G S O P /
Rocky B /
Rocky B ... and so on.

If you don't know the tune that goes with the song, then explaining it
wouldn't help. The whole cast, gaffers, technicians ran on for this
number, linked arms, and were swaying back and forth singing along –
accompanied by the guitars and bone-banging.

Just at the point that the extras and technical cast ran on and started
singing, those of us who were producing the show got our surprise.

Remember the kid who had painted the backdrop? This scene (which, by the
way, truly was a 16 x 30 foot painting suitable for framing) had
volcanoes and jungle and pterosaurs flying and ... well, it was just
amazing. Anyway, the same kid had been secretly working on a prop for
the finale and – just as we were really rocking into the Rocky B number,
this gigantic dinosaur puppet head and neck come in from backstage
right. This thing looked like a brontosaur or a diplodocus – a long,
graceful neck ending in a small head with a clamshell mouth. Both the
kid and his dad were backstage working this puppet as the neck was about
12 feet long and keeping it moving from side to side while opening and
closing its mouth was a two person job. The mouth lip-synched along with
the song and then – just before the curtain rang down – the puppet bent
down and picked up a "Vote for Rocky" poster with its mouth and waved it
around.

The curtain closed, we picked up our props, took down the backdrop and
hurried offstage.

There were hoots and hollers and applause from the audience. It's
possible, maybe even plausible (there being a difference - tip o' the
hat to Jim Miller), that there were some boos in there, too.

We went home feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. We had put on a good
show, it had all worked well and everyone involved had a great time
doing it.

The good feelings lasted until the time we got home. Very shortly
afterwards, the phone rang. Someone from the Stake YM/YW organization
called the ward YM/YW leaders and told us that they were shocked and
saddened to see such a ghastly, uncivilized display of ... well, I don't
really remember all the things they said. There were comments about raw
sexuality, about bestiality (most likely a failure in vocabulary driven
by the use of blood-oozing bones), about immodest dress and several
things about church standards. We were told our show could not be
performed on the second night.

Our bishop, who was a quiet, conservative, mild mannered insurance
agent, jumped in on our side. He said if we were going to get thrown out
for following the guidelines, then they were going to have to throw out
all the others that clearly busted their $40 budget or who completely
ignored the theme (there were a couple of wards that basically put on
the same show, year after year, with only minimal changes).

The stake president finally weighed in and said he didn't find our show
funny, thought we lacked taste but that we had not broken any of the
stake rules or even threatened church standards, so we would be allowed
to perform.

So we showed up the second night, a little surprised at the tempest in a
Postum cup that we had created.

They reversed the order of the performances for the second night, so we
went on first. The cultural hall was packed to the rafters. While we
were hanging around getting ready, we ran into kids we knew from other
stakes who had come just to see what this horrible, disgusting show of
ours was all about. We heard rumors that we were going to be
disfellowshipped for our participation in our production, or that our
leaders were all going to be released, or that the stake was going to
cancel the entire second night (or all future roadshows) to make sure we
did not get to perform it again. To say the atmosphere was electric
would be to miss the full state of the charged, whispered excitement
that was flowing through the crowd on both sides of the curtain.

When the show started and we were actually allowed to perform, it was
almost an anticlimax. Again the performance went well, from the
entr'acte down to the finale with the dinosaur puppet. At this ward
building, when you exited the stage, you could see the audience from the
hallway. We could see that we got a standing ovation from about a third
of the audience, polite applause from about another third. The remaining
third were either sitting in stony silence, having made the decision not
to applaud or actively booing or making catcalls. It wasn't quite the
response one might hope for.

We changed into street clothes and sat in the back to watch the other
(perfectly normal) performances. At the conclusion, it was time for the
awards. They awarded first place – it wasn't us. Then second place –
that wasn't us either. Then third place – same again. And then honorable
mention – nope.

The way the awards were officially graded was into three categories:
Excellent, Superior and Good. So they would announce the awards by
saying something like "And in second place, with a superior performance,
is ward X's production of ..."

After they announced the first four wards, they would announce the
others in rank order by the judges’ scores and would only say "Ward X,
with their production of Title Y, was awarded a Good Performance
certificate." Someone from the ward would then go pick up the
certificate and shake hands with the announcer; normal stuff.

We waited as all the other wards were called.

And then, last and (it seemed) least, they announced our show. "And we
have a certificate for the performance of _The Invention of the Wheel_."

Our performance as not announced as Excellent, not as Superior, not as
Good, just as _a_ performance.

The director and I went up to get the certificate (the only youth to do
so; all other certificates had been accepted by the adult leaders of the
youth). The applause was just about the same as before – some
enthusiastic responses, some antagonistic responses – but their seemed
to be more boos than before. People we didn't even know told us
afterwards that they felt our show had been unfairly judged and that we
certainly should have been in the top three or four shows.

But we weren't. We came in last; dead last.

There were some very strong feelings in both our ward and the stake
about the style and content of our show and some equally strong
criticism for our leaders who "let us" get away with such an
unacceptable production.

What would happen next year? Would we be forced to go back to scripts
written and directed by adults? Would our ward be banned from
competition? Would there even be another roadshow performed in the stake?

Stay tuned for the thrilling next adventure.

Paula

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Oct 31, 2005, 1:06:24 AM10/31/05
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On Sun, 30 Oct 2005 13:44:26 -0000, The Poster Formerly Known as Craig
Olson <craig...@olsonhome.com> wrote:

>What would happen next year? Would we be forced to go back to scripts
>written and directed by adults? Would our ward be banned from
>competition? Would there even be another roadshow performed in the stake?

I am the only LDS of my generation I know of who managed to be active
all my teenage years but never be in a roadshow. All my brothers
ended up in at least one. Part of the problem (?) was that they
started having some dance festivals at the Rose Bowl. I was all set
to be in that until they changed my group at the last minute. I
didn't want to change from my well-behaved and serious group to the
most rowdy group, but I could have adjusted to that. The big problem
was that they put me in a different position in that group so I would
have to learn a completely new part of the dance in various ways. I
was not a wave maker at all but I quit the show when this was done by
the leader whose daughter was transferred to my spot in the
well-behaved group that looked really good dancing and had even got
together on the side for extra practice to make sure of it. My
partner wasn't even transferred with me. He was one of the very cute
older boys in Mutual who the daughter of the director had a crush on
after the boy she had chosen to dance with in the goof off group
dumped her as his girlfriend, The daughter had the nerve to scream at
me at Seminary the next morning about how I had disrespected and hurt
her mom by leaving her with a hole in that dance group and she was
going to kick my behind (in different terms) if I didn't tell the mom
I would be at the extra practices just for me to learn my new part and
participate. I didn't return to the fold or dance at the festival nor
did I get my butt kicked. My old partner stood up for me in the
parking lot, which irritated the girl who wanted him to like her, his
new partner, but got her to shut up and go to school. I'm so glad
they had youth activities to help us to find groups of wholesome
people and wholesome activities to help us through the temptations of
those adolescent years. Next installment: How the only person to
ever physically attack me in high school was a girl from my ward and
the only one to threaten me with bodily harm was a friend of that
girl's who didn't even know me personally.

You should have seen me nip nastiness in the bud when I was a Beehive
advisor!

--
Paula
"Anyway, other people are weird, but sometimes they have candy, so it's best to try to get along with them." Joe Bay

David Bowie

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Nov 1, 2005, 4:30:31 PM11/1/05
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The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson wrote:

<snip>

> But we weren't. We came in last; dead last.

Brings to mind the only roadshow i was ever part of--Carrollton
(Maryland) Ward, must have been sometime between the fall of 1988 and
the spring of 1990, 'cause Carthy Olson (whom Craig will remember)[1]
played the lead.

This roadshow was a somewhat similar thing, as i recall--very much
driven by the youth and what *we* wanted. We did have an adult write the
script for us, though (Zina Peterson--you can do worse than have a
then-doctoral candidate in medieval lit write a script for you based on
fairy-tale themes).

Great fun, all 'round. FWIW, i played Prince Calgon, a
chain-mail-and-pink-lace-wearing prince who entered and rescued Carthy's
character in response to the immortal line, "(Prince) Calgon, take me away!"

Given my costume (which wasn't necessarily the most outrageous part of
the show), you can probably imagine that the reaction we got was
somewhat similar to the reaction Craig's show got--part of the crowd
loved it, part of the crowd hated it.

Unfortunately, the Grownups In Charge were part of the old guard...

<snip>

[1] And who(m) i once insulted by mentioning, in passing, her
resemblance to Grace Slick. It wasn't *intended* as an insult, since i
meant early Jefferson Airplane Grace Slick, but her referent was
Starship Grace Slick, so...

David, remembering one of the YW had chainmail though we didn't ask why
--
David Bowie http://pmpkn.net/lx
Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

Justin Thyme

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Nov 1, 2005, 5:13:33 PM11/1/05
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"David Bowie" <db....@pmpkn.net> wrote in message
news:11mfnjn...@news.supernews.com...

> The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
>> But we weren't. We came in last; dead last.

> Great fun, all 'round. FWIW, i played Prince Calgon, a


> chain-mail-and-pink-lace-wearing prince who entered and rescued Carthy's
> character in response to the immortal line, "(Prince) Calgon, take me
> away!"

Somewhat reminiscent of a roadshow we did when I was in youth. Our branch
was rather small (had less members than some of the ward's in the stake had
youth, and I was the only youth), therefore we were permitted to make
roadshow a whole branch activity rather than a youth activity. One roadshow
we had a "Fairy God Father". It's quite something to see a bearded,
moustached, branch president dressed in a multi-coloured tutu with his hairy
legs showing, while above the tutu he has a dinner suit and is carrying a
plastic machine gun. The reaction was likewise mixed - going from people who
saw the humour and laughed to people who thought cross-dressing was an evil
sin. We were given the ultimatum though - rewrite the character so he was
minus the tutu, or not perform on night 2. Night 2 he appeared minus the
tutu, but in a flowing sparkly skirt, much to the chagrin of the more
conservative members of the stake.

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

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Nov 5, 2005, 11:10:18 AM11/5/05
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David Bowie wrote:
> The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
>>But we weren't. We came in last; dead last.
>
>
> Brings to mind the only roadshow i was ever part of--Carrollton
> (Maryland) Ward, must have been sometime between the fall of 1988 and
> the spring of 1990, 'cause Carthy Olson (whom Craig will remember)[1]
> played the lead.

Ah, yes, I remember it well.


>
> This roadshow was a somewhat similar thing, as i recall--very much
> driven by the youth and what *we* wanted. We did have an adult write the
> script for us, though (Zina Peterson--you can do worse than have a
> then-doctoral candidate in medieval lit write a script for you based on
> fairy-tale themes).

Not to mention that she ranks up there with some level of rock-n-roll
fame by marriage as her husband's Teacher's Quorum adviser was Randy
Bachman [1].

> Great fun, all 'round. FWIW, i played Prince Calgon, a
> chain-mail-and-pink-lace-wearing prince who entered and rescued Carthy's
> character in response to the immortal line, "(Prince) Calgon, take me away!"

That line actually came up in conversation not too many years ago. It
lives on in Olson family legend.

> Given my costume (which wasn't necessarily the most outrageous part of
> the show), you can probably imagine that the reaction we got was
> somewhat similar to the reaction Craig's show got--part of the crowd
> loved it, part of the crowd hated it.

There is always that moment of silence after the performance finishes
when you really hope everyone is just so amazed with the production that
they haven't started to clap yet. It only gets painful when that moment
drags on and on ...

> David, remembering one of the YW had chainmail though we didn't ask why

Well, remembering Carrollton Ward, I guess I don't find that awfully our
of character. We did have a Catholic priest teaching Gospel Doctrine,
after all (he only GD teacher I can recall who would could Lao Tse in
class).

Craig

[1] People who don't know Randy Bachman should get out more.

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

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Nov 5, 2005, 11:54:45 AM11/5/05
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Time passed.

[Scene of a calendar on a wall beside a window; pages fall from the
calendar as – through the window – first snow falls, then melts, then
buds form on the trees, then leaves grow and turn green and, finally,
the leaves turn golden amber and begin to fall]

It was roadshow season, once again.

As a group, the kids in my ward's Mutual waited to see the Stake
guidelines for this year so we could begin working on an even better
production than last year. The storm of ruffled feathers and riled
feelings seemed to have passed safely into history. We had great plans
for something even more over the top than Rocky, Ug-Lug and his
mother-in-law.

Then the guidelines came out.

They started off with a statement of purpose that said something to the
effect of "to avoid another unfortunate lapse in the quality of
entertainment offered..." and went on to impose some rather strict
standards for roadshow content.

Among other things, the standards included a ban on on-stage live music,
a ban on dance numbers "inappropriate for a stake dance" and a
requirement that all costumes meet church standards for Mutual
activities. Since we were the only ward who had included on-stage
musicians, a non-stake-dance-appropriate dance routine and somewhat edgy
costumes, we had a pretty good idea of the target of these new guidelines.

Taken a bit aback, we stopped for a thalamic pause to consider our options.

As with other years, there were the normal guidelines: all shows had to
have singing and dancing, had to keep within a budget and had to involve
as many of the youth as possible.

The theme selected for this year was "All that glitters is not gold"

So we sat down to consider what we could do with that theme and the
strict guidelines. The options we considered were, once again,
influenced by the current popular culture. One of the recent blockbuster
movies was the James Bond film, Goldfinger. On TV, one of the season's
big hits was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Both were spy dramas and somewhere
in there we came up with the idea for this year's show.

We ended up writing a script based loosely on a combination of both the
movie and the TV series. We wrote a purely action / drama show that had
as one of the leading characters a voice-operated computer called Thinker.

The plot was based on world economics. Following on the heels of a
slapstick comic strip production, you couldn't get further afield –
which was one of the objectives we had set for ourselves.

The story line is that a maniacal Swedish scientist named Auric Digit
has discovered a process to turn common materials into gold. He is
beginning to mass produce gold and dump it on the open market. The
result for the world economy will be to drive down the value of gold,
thus sending the world into a downward spiral of monetary inflation and
global recession.

Our heroes and heroines, working for some NGA whose title I forget (but
whose acronym was something like AUNTIE), discover the plot when the
computer, Thinker, correlates seemingly unrelated items and deduces the
effect if the situation is not corrected. Thinker identifies a short
list of possible candidates and, working with investigators in the
field, narrows the list down to our villain.

Agents are sent to interdict Auric but he is killed when he falls into
his own machinery and turns himself into gold.

The prices of gold continue to fall, however, and Thinker runs a massive
analysis of all gold transactions and finds that the criminal underworld
has stolen a copy of Auric's machine and is attempting to manufacture
billions of dollars in gold. The criminals are apprehended, but not
before Thinker – overworked from such stressful computing – explodes in
a flash a light, sparks and a cloud of smoke, worthy of any illogical
Star Trek computer.

The things that we chose to make this production unique were:

Costumes – there weren't any to speak of. Everyone wore Sunday dress –
suits for the guys, suits for the girls – all dark grey. The exception
was Auric, who got to wear a white lab coat. So there could be no
complaints about inappropriate dress.

Sets – the set was the interior of an office, with desks and walls and a
large computer screen. For those who watch network TV, imagine the set
of NCIS done all in shades of grey. The actual set was composed of a
series of "flats" – 4 x 8 foot wooden frames with canvas stretched
across them and office scenes, computer parts and so on painted on the
canvas. Two of the flats comprised Thinker, with lots of blinking light
and displays (classic 60s computer control panel).

Props – props were pretty extensive this year. We had typewriters and
telephones in the "office" and lots of desk clutter to make it look
real. The highlight was in Auric's lab - a 75 pound ingot of lead that
we coated with gold leaf to make it look like a bar of gold. Alas, the
ingot was stolen from backstage after the performance.

Music – there was music, but there was no singing. Instead we had a
score, performed live by a backstage band that played between scenes and
other transitions like a movie sound track. So we had live music which
was sort of against the rules, but met the letter of the rules by not
having on-stage musicians. The lack of singing cost us points in the
evaluation.

Dance – nope, we didn't do any dancing either. This, too, cost us points.

Special effects – the big special effect was the melt down of Thinker.
There was a panel of blinking lights controlled by a number of switches
that the cast could adjust as they "worked" with the computer. The
lights themselves were animated by a stepping relay (a small motor
connected to a series of switches that cycled through a pattern of
connections; this made it look like the computer was running). At the
appropriate moment, Wellington Duet (our counterpart to UNCLE's Napoleon
Solo) pushes a switch that added 50 or 60 flashbulbs to each circuit and
– as the stepping relay advanced – the flashbulbs would go off and a
backstage gaffer would blast CO2 out of a fire extinguisher through the
panel. Another effect used a display panel made of silk as a rear
projection screen for slides of Auric's hideout and as a live "TV"
screen for agents to report in from the field (by turning a flood light
on them as they stood behind the screen).

Dialog – the dialog was straight out of a 60s era spy show; no jokes,
the occasional wry bit of humor, but pretty much straight business all
the way. At the "death" of Thinker, the last lines the computer speaks
were "All that glisters [1] is not gold ...". To which one of the
characters adds "Often you have heard this told. Many a man his life
hath sold but that substance to behold. Gilded tombs do worms enfold ...
Fare thee well, Thinker, the case is cold." Yeah, we took ourselves
pretty seriously.

This year, the stake held only one performance. The shows were performed
in a local high school auditorium to give us enough room for everyone to
attend. The sequence of performances was drawn by lot and we went on
about in the middle of the shows.

There were a couple of other wards where you could tell that the kids
were having more to do with the writing than in previous years – more
kid-level jokes, more inclusion of pop culture references to things like
TV commercials. But in general, the shows were essentially the same
50s-era musicals.

When it came time to announce the judges' results, this year we had set
our expectations a little lower. Our goal: finish anywhere but dead last.

We didn't finish First, Second or Third. We didn't get honorable
mention. But we were the first show to be called immediately after the
honorable mention, with an "Excellent" performance – not as good as
"Superior", but far better than last year's "something less than Good".
This put us smack in the middle of the results – a position we took as a
solid win for our efforts.

One of the judges talked to us after the show and said that the lack of
singing and dancing had strongly affected our results and encouraged us
to try to find a compromise between the rather controversial approach
from last year and our totally ignoring some of the requirements this year.

When we talked this over the next week in Mutual, one of the things that
we found out was that no one really had fun working on our dramatic spy
adventure. There was a lot of dialog to memorize, the action scenes had
stunts that were hard to choreograph and harder to perform, the whole
idea of writing an entire musical score and then performing it live was
a lot harder than we estimated.

We still had strong participation from almost every kid that came out to
MIA, but the general feeling was that this had been "work" not "fun".

So it was clear we had to do something different – yet again – next
year. Something that would be fun for everyone involved in the
performance and that would still include all the required elements. This
time, we decided, we were going to settle for only one outcome: a first
class production that would win first place. "Begin with the end in
mind" is one of the things that Steven Covey tells people to do to
habitually be successful.

We knew the end we had in mind. All we had to do is wait a year to
begin again.

Craig

[1] "Glisters" (not "glitters") is, of course, the way most of us
learned the quote from Merchant of Venice. Enough of the cast had been
involved in amateur Shakespeare productions that we could quote whole
sections from popular plays like MoV at the drop of a hat. I think we
included the "You that choose not by the view / chance as fair and
choose as true" bit somewhere in the finale, as well. Pedantic R Us.

hlil...@juno.com

unread,
Nov 5, 2005, 5:14:47 PM11/5/05
to
Justin Thyme writes

>It's quite something to see a bearded,
>moustached, branch president dressed in a multi-coloured tutu with his hairy
>legs showing, while above the tutu he has a dinner suit and is carrying a
>plastic machine gun. The reaction was likewise mixed - going from people who
>saw the humour and laughed to people who thought cross-dressing was an evil
>sin. We were given the ultimatum though - rewrite the character so he was
>minus the tutu, or not perform on night 2. Night 2 he appeared minus the
>tutu, but in a flowing sparkly skirt, much to the chagrin of the more
>conservative members of the stake.

It wasn't a road show but I remember a skit put on in my BYU ward which
featured one of the guys wearing a tutu and imitating (poorly) the
light fantastic on stage. I don't remember the point of the skit but
the tutu wearer was memorable. He was a former BYU football player,
interior lineman type.

I don't remember any controversy about it though.

John S. Colton

unread,
Nov 7, 2005, 10:43:37 AM11/7/05
to
On Sat, 05 Nov 2005 16:54:45 -0000, The Poster Formerly Known as Craig
Olson wrote:

[snip]


>We knew the end we had in mind. All we had to do is wait a year to
>begin again.

[snip]

Oh, great, another cliffhanger!

But thanks, Craig, for these highly entertaining stories.

John


*****
John's newsgroup motto:
"A soft answer turneth away wrath:
but grievous words stir up anger." --Prov. 15:1
*****

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

unread,
Nov 7, 2005, 10:39:11 PM11/7/05
to
Finally, it was time for my ward's next roadshow.

This would be my fourth – and final – roadshow. There was a small cadre
of people who had worked on each of the three previous productions.
Years before it became popular in Hollywood to form your own production
company, we had already formed ours: Olson-Rector Productions (okay, so
I helped pick the name). And the entire production company was pretty
darn serious about making sure that everyone enjoyed being involved with
this year's roadshow.

When the stake guidelines came out, we were in for a surprise. There
were some significant changes this year, almost all of which went in our
favor. For one thing, the guidelines said that the productions did not
need to include music, singing or dancing. They could include those
things, and if they were included you would be judged on the quality of
the music, singing, or dancing. But if you didn't include them, then you
would be judged on the performance – even steven.

But perhaps the biggest break was the theme. It was "Pot-pourri". A grab
bag - a medley – an eclectic selection of bits. If every there was a
theme that we felt we could pull off, this was ours.

So we set to work. And it turned out to be trickier than we thought to
come up with something that was cohesive enough to pull everyone into
the act and still hold something like a story line together. But, in the
end, we thought we had it.

Like our first effort, much of this one was "under wraps". We rehearsed
bits of it here or there, we held discussion meetings and planning
meetings and blocking sessions, long afternoons making the elaborate
costumes (all within budget, mind you) and set design workshops but we
never really tried to put it all together until the night of the
performance. The whole idea was to be loose and fresh and – as much as
possible – ad lib.

The stake required that we submit a title and a script for review. For a
title, we ended up with OL-RECT III (the third Olson-Rector Production;
I did mention earlier we were a bit full of ourselves?). The script we
submitted was more of a sketch – or a series of sketches – than an
actual line-by-line dialog, but it worked well enough to get it approved
for performance.

Performance this year was at a large auditorium of one of the local
colleges – a much more professional feeling place than we had previously
performed any of our roadshows. This gave us a large stage, with
multiple side curtains for entrances. It was an ideal setting for what
we had in mind.

The stake randomly assigned performance order, and we ended up last.
That was okay with us.

So we sat in the audience and watched most of the other shows before
gathering in the wings for our turn.

As with other roadshows, our opening act went on in front of the curtain
while the other ward was clearing the stage and we were setting up ours.

So the lights come up on the closed curtain, and an offstage announcer
rambled through some prattle about plays coming from the melding of
ideas and people and culture and time and how some themes just seem to
pull them all together, into a timeless unity that tugs at the
heartstrings of your memory ... something forgettable like that.

In the process, the curtain parts at center stage long enough for a
young woman dressed in plain black and white, prim and proper, American
Pilgrim garb to enter, carrying a stool. She sits down and begins
working on some needlework.

Two young men, also dressed as pilgrims, enter from stage right.

Alden: "Thou art right, Miles, I should bring that up at next town meeting."

Standish: "I knew I could count on thee, John."

Alden: "I am always willing to help."

Standish: "I know that, John, and I'm glad to hear it. There is one
other thing I would ask thee."

Alden: "Shoot."

Standish: "Look over there. See that maiden?"

Alden: "Young Priscilla? Yes, of course; an attractive young woman."

Standish: "Yes, and thee should she her needlework. Why I think she
would make a perfect wife."

Alden: "I had been thinking the same thing."

Standish: "That's why, John, I want thee to ask her to marry me."

Alden: "What?"

Standish: "Thou knowest me – I am not good with words. My tongue gets
all tied up inside and I can never speak from the heart. But, thee John,
thou art clever with words and witty with the ladies. Thee could ask
Priscilla for me and she would never refuse."

Alden: "I don't know, Miles, thou seeest..."

Standish: "Great, then, lad. Get thee on with it."

Standish pushes John towards Priscilla, who looks up at the interruption.

Priscilla:" Why, John. Hello."

Alden: "Hello, Priscilla. I have something I have been meaning to ask of
thee."

Priscilla: "Yes, John?"

Alden: "I know thou art an attractive young woman ..."

Priscilla: "Thank you, John."

Alden: "And I know thou art of marrying age ..."

Priscilla: "That is true, John."

Alden: "And I know that no man has asked for thy hand ..."

Priscilla: "Not as yet, John."

Alden: "And so I've want to ask thee ..."

Priscilla: "Yes, John, what do thee want to ask?"

Alden: "If thou wouldst be willing to marry..."

Priscilla: "Oh, yes, John."

Alden: "Miles Standish."

Priscilla: "What? Who?"

Alden: "Miles Standish. Thou knowest, the governor?"

Priscilla: "John Alden, why does not thee speak for thyself!"

From stage left, a woman in jeans and a flannel shirt with the sleeves
rolled up, a clipboard in her hand walks on stage, pulling a pencil from
behind her ear.

Woman: "No! No! No! This will never do!"

John, Miles and Priscilla freeze.

From stage right, a man wearing a corduroy jacket, leather patches on
the elbows, a button down shirt with a cravat at the open neck enters
waving his hands.

Man: "CUT! What's the problem now?"

Woman: "There is no life in this script. There's no life in this play.
No one cares about these people! Marry the guy, don't marry the guy.
Speak for yourself, or don't – who cares?"

Man: "But it's the SCRIPT. We agreed on THE SCRIPT. We already got
approval for THE SCRIPT. We don't have time to change it. We're supposed
to be on RIGHT NOW!"

Woman: "I don't care about some silly schedule. The play must have LIFE
– it must speak to ME. Get me the writer. And who designed these
costumes! Aggg. What drab colors. Stop this, I say. Stop it now."

A script editor and a costume designer run on stage. There is a heated
argument, mostly with their backs to the audience. Pages are torn off
clipboards, torn out of notebooks and thrown into the air. Hands wave
wildly. Individuals run on from off stage and join the conference. John,
Miles and Priscilla stand watching awkwardly, uncertain of what to do.

Finally the conference breaks up.

Woman: "I don't care, I tell you. Make it happen and make it happen NOW!
Open the curtain and get this roadshow started!"

The curtain opens to a scene that looks like something out of backstage
at Gone with the Wind. As the curtains open, there are flats in the
process of being painted to resemble a crumbling Southern mansion. A few
wilted plants in pots are being drug to various positions on stage.
Stage hands lead John, Miles and Priscilla to spots marked on the stage.
Costumers rush on, grab hold of their pilgrim costumes and literally rip
them off; seams part, sleeves rip off (one is tied back on Miles as a
sash) to reveal Confederate Army uniforms for John and Miles and a full
belle epoch evening gown for Priscilla – these had been hidden
underneath their pilgrim costumes.

They are handed fresh pages of dialog.

From off stage, the man hollers: "And ... Action!"

Alden (in a fake southern drawl): "Wha Miles, I do declare you are
right. I should'a run that no good yankee off as soon as I saw him."

Standish: "Ah knew Ah could count on you, John."

Alden: "Miles, mah pleasure to hep you in anyway ah can."

Standish: "It warms my mother's heart to hear that, John. But before you
go, there is one favor I would ask from you, sir."

Alden: "Shoot."

Standish: "Look over there. Who do you see?"

Alden: "Wha, that's young Priscilla? Yes, of course; and a fine example
of noble southern womanhood."

Standish: "Ah agree, ah agree - and you should she how she can cook
grits. She is the ideal wife for a true gentleman."

Alden: "The very same thought had occurred to me, Miles."

Standish: "Ah am so glad to hear that, John, because I want you to ask
Priscilla to have the pleasure of being my wife."

Alden: "Sir? I say? What?"

Standish: "Oh, John, y'all know me – I'm no good with words. My tongue
flops around like a hog in a henyard, and I can't get two words to come
out in order. John, now, you look at yourself." (John does,
quizzically) "You are one clever man. You could ask Priscilla for me and
she would not dare say no to you."

Alden (falsetto): "But, Miles, I don't know nuthin about courtin' ladies!"

Standish: "Sho nuf, then, lad. Charge!."

Standish pushes John towards Priscilla, who looks up at the interruption.

Priscilla: "Why, John, you sweet thing. Hey."

Alden: "Hey, Priscilla, ma'am. Did you know there was a matter that I
been meaning to speak with you about?"

Priscilla: "No, John, I didn't. What is it?"

Alden: "I know you are a fine young woman ..."

Priscilla: "Thank you, John."

Alden: "And I know you are of an age where many a man must be thinking
of marrying you ..."

Priscilla: "If'n you say so, John."

Alden: "And I do not believe that any man has yet had the courage to ask
for your hand ..."

Priscilla: "I am still waiting, John."

Alden: "And so I have come to ask you ..."

Priscilla: "Oh, yes, John, yes? What it is?"

Alden: "I wanted to ask if you'd be willing to marry..."

Priscilla: "Oh, yes, John, yes!"

Alden: "Miles Standish."

Priscilla: "What? Who?"

Alden: "Miles Standish. You know, the Colonel?"

Priscilla: "John Alden, I do declare! Why don't you speak for yourself!"

From off stage corduroy man hollers: "Cut!" and walks on stage.

Man: "This is what you thought was better? Corn pone and ‘Frankly, my
dear I don't give ...'"

Woman (walking on stage and cutting him off): "Well, it at least has
some color! Not all grays and blacks! Some life! Joi de vie!"

Man: "But it's just as OLD. Look at me, do you think I remember the
Civil War?"

Woman: "Hmmm...."

Man: "Stop that. No, this needs to be updated. Make it today. Make it
about us. Make it real."

Script editor: "Well, we could change ..."

Costume designer "What if I bring in some ..."

They huddle again, argue again, pages fly again, people rush on and off
stage. Sets are drug around, reversed and rearranged. Two flats are
pulled together in the center of the stage and quickly painted to
resemble an Indian teepee. Potted plants are moved to either side and a
sign is stuck in one and painted to read: "Central Park"

Costumers rush on and again rip the clothes off of Miles, John and
Priscilla. John is now wearing buckskin trousers, a work shirt and
fringed leather vest. John is in bell bottoms and a wide collared
floral-print shirt. Priscilla is in a tie-dyed blouse with bell bottoms
and a beaded headband. A stage hand rushes on and gives John a protest
placard on a stick. The sign reads "America for Real Americans!"
Another hands Miles a twelve string Martin guitar, which he slings
around his back. Script writers rush on and hand fresh pages to the
actors, who scan them and then take their places. John starts to picket
in front of the teepee, shouting: "Equal rights! American Rights!
Justice for the Oppressed" and things like that.

The audience sat absolutely quiet – spellbound, horrified or bored – who
could tell? We didn't know if we had them or we had lost them. Were they
following the concept of these plays within a play or were they lost in
the haze?

We were moving fast – by this time we were only about 4 minutes into a
15 minute performance. We had on hand a cast of about 90 kids and every
one of them were going to be on stage at least twice before we were
done. We'd never really rehearsed the whole thing – not even at the
dress rehearsal the night before – we couldn't, really. The costumes
were all once-off things – we could not easily put them back together.
The sets were being built and painted as we went – like the costumes,
there was no way to unpaint or unbuild them after a rehearsal so this
was it. Make it or break it, we were rolling on.

[Sorry, John, it's another cliff hanger]

Craig

David Bowie

unread,
Nov 8, 2005, 12:43:42 PM11/8/05
to
hlil...@juno.com wrote:

> It wasn't a road show but I remember a skit put on in my BYU ward which
> featured one of the guys wearing a tutu and imitating (poorly) the
> light fantastic on stage. I don't remember the point of the skit but
> the tutu wearer was memorable. He was a former BYU football player,
> interior lineman type.

> I don't remember any controversy about it though.

Documentary proof that BYU is evil. So there.

David, who knew it was bound to come out (ahem) one day

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

unread,
Nov 8, 2005, 5:42:07 PM11/8/05
to
David Bowie wrote:
> hlil...@juno.com wrote:

>>It wasn't a road show but I remember a skit put on in my BYU ward which
>>featured one of the guys wearing a tutu and imitating (poorly) the
>>light fantastic on stage. I don't remember the point of the skit but
>>the tutu wearer was memorable. He was a former BYU football player,
>>interior lineman type.
>
>>I don't remember any controversy about it though.
>
> Documentary proof that BYU is evil. So there.

And, see, I picked up on the wrong cue - I saw the bit about "interior
lineman" and figured that *I* would not have even thought of saying
anything controversial to a 380 pound, 6 foot 8 inch athlete wearing a tutu.

Craig, other than, perhaps, "on you, it looks great"

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

unread,
Nov 14, 2005, 7:09:37 PM11/14/05
to
Here we were, midway through our largely unrehearsed roadshow, and
almost everything was working as planned. The one thing that was not
working was somewhat central to the title and our sense of humor, but
rather unimportant otherwise.

The official title of the play was OL-RECT III: A Comedy of Arrows. In
each of the "skits" with John and Miles, there was a part where Miles
asks John for a favor, and John responds: "Shoot". The original script,
as submitted to the stake, called for someone dressed as a Native
American to step onto the stage at that point and shoot and arrow at
John. The stake felt this posed a hazard to the actors and nixed the
idea. We tried several alternatives, and ended up with a large 3' arrow
prop that would fly down a piece of fishing line. But, at the night of
the performance, when we got to the stage we could not find anything to
which we could tie the fishing line. So, no arrow, and the whole
subtitle of the play became a mystery to the audience. So be it.

One of the things that had been introduced the year before and continued
for this year was we had a semi-pro sound and lighting crew that ran the
technical aspects for all the plays. So we had to submit a technical
script with cues for the lights and sound folks. We had one cue and one
lighting direction – a blackout. Having never rehearsed any of this, we
had to hope the crew got it right.

Where I last left us, we had John, Miles and Priscilla all dressed as
mid-60s hippies hanging around Central Park. John appears to be
protesting in front of an Indian tepee, and is chanting slogans about
Native American rights (well ahead of his time, I might add).

Standish: "Hey, John. What's happening?"

Alden: "Stand! The Man! Just marching for freedom, like always."

Standish: "Far out. With all this protesting, you still got time to lend
me a hand? I need a favor, man."

Alden: "Shoot."

Standish: "Listen, you know I really dig that Priscilla chick, right?"

Alden: "Pris? Yeah, man, what's not to dig?"

Standish: "Oh I am so with you, and have you heard her harmonize at a
hootenanny? It is to die for! So I'm thinking this chick is like the
perfect old lady."

Alden: "Right on."

And so it went through the 60s version of the story until we got down to
Priscilla's line –

Priscilla: "Alden, you spineless wimp, get a grip. You wanna rap about
love, you rap for yourself!"

The script writer comes in from back stage, walks over to each of the
actors and yanks the scripts out of their hands. "Stop that!" she
hollers, half at them, half at herself.

Producer (entering from the wings): "What now?" I think we have something."

Writer: "A fever, perhaps, but not a script. This is drivel. This is tripe."

Director (storming in): "You wrote it!"

Writer: "Don't interrupt me when I'm throwing a tantrum! This reads like
a bad TV sitcom. I won't have my name on it."

More discussion and dialog followed, dissecting the various failings
with the script and the plot and the cast and just about everything else.

The discussion continues with an analysis that traces problems with the
production to the time frame. The first was in the 1660s, then second in
the 1860s the third in the 1960s, and each was less good than the
previous. So to make the play *really* work, we needed not to go forward
in time, we need to go …

Yep, you got it. Here it comes.

After a sotto voice conference in the middle of the stage, the cast
breaks from the huddle and rushes around frantically. Crew members grab
the two flats that, together, looked like a tepee and turn them upside
down. What had looked like the sides of the tepee now look like a dreary
background and the part that had been trees and lawn now look like a
jungle mountain. A few quick splashes of red paint and the mountain
becomes a volcano. Other sets are inverted, painted and adjusted to take
on a decidedly prehistoric look (in some cases it just took a few brush
strokes to changes oaks into palm trees, add a angry red sun and few
pterosaurs to the sky).

Costumers rush on and rip the clothes off John, Miles and Priscilla
leaving them clad only in the same skimpy animal skins we used two years
ago. Bones and firewood and brought in and dropped on stage. New scripts
and handed out and positions taken. Everyone but the actors flees the
stage, and we're ready to roll, once again.

Mug Stone: "Hun Gowah, Ug-lug. Long time, no see."

Ug-lug: "Mug Stone! It seems like eons! Wanna come hunt a sabretooth
with me?"

Stone: "Practical as always, Ug-lug. Can it wait for a bit? I mean, look
at the sun-dial, the day is still young."

Ug-lug: "Mug, when it comes to hunting, there is always time to kill."

And so we ran through the whole skit again, with references to dinosaurs
and mastodons and dragging people back to caves by their hair. Just as
it was wrapping up, the costume design pulls open the curtain at the
back of the stage and walks in, waving her arms.

Costume designer: "Okay, that's enough."

Director: "CUT! What now? This time I think we got it."

Designer: "In your dreams, child. This is beyond hope. Where is the
vision for the heart, where is the style for the soul, where is the
substance for the eye?"

Script writer: "That's right – it's all about you – if it doesn't look
good, it isn't real, right?"

And it pretty much dissolved from there. People drifted in from off
stage and joined the general discussion in the middle of the stage.
John, Miles and Priscilla are left standing on either side, without a
lot to do or say. At one point the designer stomps out from the group
and pulls an entire Puritan outfit – a one-piece dress, to be precise –
over Miles' head and returns to the discussion pointing and saying "Like
that!" Miles stands there, looking down at his outfit and looks
hopelessly confused.

In the background, canned music starts low and builds. About the time
you could recognize the tune ["Somewhere" from West Side Story], John
and Priscilla look at each other and sing:

"There's a role for us …"

The people playing the director, producer and script writer (who were,
in real life, the director, producer and script writer) take over and sing:

"Somewhere a goal for us …"

Scene painter: "I paint sets –"

Costume designer: "And I design –"

All: "But it's all ours – it's not yours or mine!"

"It's ours –"

[All gesture to each other. From off stage, about half people who have
been involved in sets and scenery run on and join in the singing]

"We're all stars –"

[The rest of the ensemble runs on. Some of them more enthusiastic ones
jump through the butcher paper flats like a football team running onto
the field, making a decidedly dramatic entrance.]

"And we're all here."

[There are now 90 people on stage, all singing. And it wasn't all that
bad – we had probably 45% of the local Mormon Youth Choir on stage]

More singing and more lyrics followed, building to a climax that went
something like …

"Once we start we will never stop
'til we reach our goal
And come out on top – "

[Miles and John grab Priscilla and do a cheerleading-style lift so she
stands on their shoulders.]

"Some script –"

[At this point, the dinosaur head puppet from OL-RECT I appears from
back stage and starts wobbling around stage; Priscilla sees it and jumps
down to the stage in alarm]

"Some play – "

[Auric Digit – the villain from OL-RECT II – runs on in a lab coat and
carrying a flask of blue liquid boiling smoke – dry ice in water with
blue food coloring]

"THIS YEAR!"

The front semi-circle of players take a half-step forward and point
downward like a teacher might tap their desk and say "I want that
homework on my desk tomorrow." While the cast holds the note, Rocky
Bagsop (in costume) swings in on a rope and lands center stage, sliding
on his knees (accidental, the rope was tied in the wrong place) to the
center of the point where the semi-circle of people were pointing,
almost like we planned his spot (we didn't).

Rocky throws his arms out wide, the song ends and the entire cast and
crew bend from waist in a deep bow. That's the lighting cue and they got
it exactly right. As the cast and crew reached a full bow, the lights go
out.

And there was silence.

Standing there in the dark, I know I was thinking: We did it again.

The first year we amused ourselves and some of the audience, but nobody
else.

The second year we entertained some of the audience but not ourselves.

And this year – did we miss again?

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.

John Johnson

unread,
Nov 22, 2005, 9:52:42 AM11/22/05
to

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson wrote:

> Standish: "Hey, John. What's happening?"
>
> Alden: "Stand! The Man! Just marching for freedom, like always."

This was my favorite line.

> Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.

So, where is the rest of it?

Anxiously waiting . . .

--
John Johnson

Peggy Tatyana

unread,
Nov 22, 2005, 1:16:53 PM11/22/05
to
"John Johnson" <smiley...@gmail.com> wrote:

I've been reading Craig's stories to my daughters, to their great
enjoyment. This week, while I was driving them to school, one of them
took notice of the name of the street we were driving on. "Look!" she
said, "It's Craig Drive. I wonder if it has great roadshow stories.?"

Peggy

--
...it's always better to find humility before
it goes out looking for you. -- Carolyn Hax


The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

unread,
Nov 22, 2005, 4:34:24 PM11/22/05
to
So there we are, in the middle of a bow, in the middle of a dark stage,
wondering why it is so deathly quiet.

And we'll leave us there for a moment.

=============================

Jump forward a couple of decades.

By this time, I am now kinda-sorta grown up, living in a different
state, married, father to a pack of kids, some of whom (as noted
elsewhere in this thread) are themselves involved in roadshows. One
weekend, there is a leadership social for members of the bishoprics,
stake presidency and their wives. The first counselor in the stake
presidency and his wife had lived in my stake during my roadshow years
and, at some point during the evening, his wife came up to me and said:
"I bet you don't realize the impact you had on roadshows in the stake."

Somewhat surprised, I agreed that I probably didn't.

She went on to explain that she had been in the Stake YW presidency at
the same time as I was producing roadshows. She had been one of the
roadshow judges for 10 or 12 years, with my involvement falling about in
the middle. She explained that the before and after were – for her –
like night and day. Before we showed up, the shows were done by the
leaders for the leaders and – most often – at the expense of the youth.
Afterwards, most of the shows were done by the kids for the kids and
(sometimes) at the expense of the leaders. She thought this was a move
in the right direction towards effective youth leadership and youth
participation. She said the that year after our grande finale, half the
wards put on productions that were almost carbon copies of one or the
other of our shows, in one aspect or another. And the year after, more
wards copied them. In three years, she said, it was a whole new ballgame.

Some of the change was in the youth, who saw what could be done. But
part of the change, she told me, was at the Stake level, who needed to
decide if they really wanted effective youth leadership – and it all
came to a head during the judging of OL-RECT III.

In part because some of the leaders felt that our previous efforts and
been evaluated too low based upon what the youth were able to do for
themselves, the stake had been working on the guidelines for the judges.
By this third year, they had developed a careful set of guidelines that
were intended to reduce the level of subjective taste in the results.

The scores were to be computed based on three areas: technical, creative
and participation. The technical was pretty straight forward – it
assigned a certain number of points to the length of time for the
entr'acte, the rest of the play, to the setup and the take down. If you
ran too short, you lost a few points; if you ran long, you seriously
lost points.

The creative section was also broken down into categories for theme,
originality, performance, and entertainment.

The participation section was a flat percentage: how many youth on the
rolls in your ward compared to how many were directly involved in the
performance.

The first and last categories were purely mathematical. The middle
category was scored by each of three judges. Their results were
averaged, added to the technical score and the result multiplied by the
participation percentage.

She told me that the long delay in announcing the results had been
caused by a sharp disagreement over the creative scores.

"One of the judges," she told me, "said that your play should be
disqualified, or your ward should be banned from future productions or
you and your cast should, personally, be shot – or all three, she seemed
imprecise. It caused quite a discussion because she refused to give you
any score at all – she just wanted you all thrown out of the hall. She
felt that the costume changes on stage were indecent, that the costumes
themselves were indecent, that the script was offensive, that your
attitude showed disrespect for authority and that the whole production
made a mockery of the respectable tradition of roadshows."

"Let me guess," I said, "she was from (and I named one of the wards
known for their lavish musical productions)."

"No," she said, "but you're close – she had been in charge of roadshows
for (one of the other Busby Berkley wards) productions for several
years. And she would not compromise. In the end we simply recorded your
score from her as a 0 and moved on to calculate the results."

She said that we had taken some real hits on the technical side. We had
run over on time and we had left a mess behind with scattered paper and
paint that needed to be cleaned up afterwards. So, when you factored in
the low technical score with one-third of our creative score at a zero,
she wasn't hopeful for how well it would turn out.

"The one factor in your favor was participation. You had 100% of the
youth involved (and we did – active kids, inactive kids, troubled kids,
deeply disturbed kids – when the cast sang "We're All Here", they meant
it quite literally.). The closest ward had something like 60% - you were
miles ahead. But going into the calculation, we couldn't tell if it
would be enough."

But, of course, by the time of this conversation – some years in the
future – I knew how it turned out.

So let's go back in time; the picture ripples slightly as it fades to
black and the narrators voice fades out as ...

=============================

The lights came up and the house exploded.

Not literally, of course, but if it were possible to bring down the
house by raising the roof, that is exactly what happened. There was
applause and cheering and whistles. A good percentage of the audience
got to their feet in a standing ovation. The current method for fans to
show approval at sporting events was by banging the folding seat bottom up
and down and we could hear a muffled whump-whump-whump as people tried
to copy the style, using the plush upholstered seats the same way.

We came out of the bow and ran off stage.

The applause continued.

A kid with a broom ran on to sweep up the paper thrown around. Someone
else ran on with a bucket and a cloth to clean up the paint splashed
when we painted sets. The applause got louder. And it just kept going.

So we sent John and Priscilla out, and they took a bow. And the applause
got louder.

So we sent out Miles, the director, producer, writer and designer. And
the applause got louder. And it kept going.

So we sent everyone out. And the applause got louder.

Last, we sent out the kid with the dinosaur head and his dad. And the
applause, somehow, got louder.

The cast and crew took a couple more bows, held them – milking out all
the applause they could get – and then, finally, we left the stage.

The show had run on time – within seconds of the allotted time. But we
were – if they counted the ad lib curtain calls – about 4 minutes over
time. And that might cost us points in the judging. But how many points
would it cost, and could we have made it up elsewhere?

All we had to do is wait for the results from the judges. In other
years, the results took maybe 5 or 10 minutes. If the last show was
clearly out of the running, the results might be available immediately
after the final curtain. But this time, there was nothing. For a long,
long time. Nothing.

As the last act on, we really had no place to sit in the audience, so we
stood along the sides of the stage and waited. And waited.

Finally, someone carried a mike and stand out to center stage. The
master of ceremonies walked up and announced:

"In first place, with a Superior Production is OL-RECT III: A Comedy of
Arrows ..."

Now *we* exploded. Shamelessly, we jumped up and down, hugged each other
and acted – well – like kids. Half the cast went up, en masse, to accept
the award, which was nothing but a piece of paper. No trophy, no ribbon,
only a piece of paper (it may only be a piece of paper, but it is one
which, by the way, I still have).

They announced the other awards. Second place was awarded an "excellent"
performance, which meant we were the only ward to be judged as
"superior". Way cool.

And we almost carried this First Place finish off with as much class as
you get in high school. Almost.

It was all over. The MC called on someone to give the closing prayer.
The person come up from the audience and approached the mike. It was
*that* close.

And then it happened.

A couple of the – how shall I put this? – "less than socially
well-adjusted" members of our cast ran up and grabbed the microphone.
One proceeded to announce the winner of the "Herbert Award" and the
other accepted it, exchanging a small aluminum foil statuette and
offering a lengthy "thank you" to a seriously not funny list of people.
Yet another kid ran up and said "We're all going to be famous and rich –
rich – RICH!" At that point, this person took a whole stack of play
money and – with a carefully orchestrated move – pressed the stack
between their fingers and flung it upwards where it blossomed into a
mushroom cloud of bills that drifted down over the first dozen rows of
the audience as the fake acceptance speech went on. And on. And on.

It might have been our shining moment to walk up and end this fiasco,
but we all stood there praying it would end. Finally the MC came back on
stage, took the mike out of the stand and handed it to the person
assigned to pray, and we were able to have a closing prayer. After the
"amen" the acceptance speech continued, without abatement. They were
still up there slapping each other on the back and handing the statute
back and forth as the house lights came on and the audience got up to leave.

But, somehow, even with this rather lame conclusion, we _had_ done it.
It took us three years but we had gone from last place to first place
and – by the end – we had involved every youth in the ward and they had
all wanted to be involved. The image of people painting sets on the fly
and then – at the end – jumping through them still stays in my mind.

And with that, we roll back to the present. By now, I've lost touch with
everyone involved.

A year or two after the play, the creator of the magnificent, 20 foot
long dinosaur puppet was severely injured in a car crash on his way home
from the Y. There were several kids sharing a ride home for Christmas
and the one driving that particular night got confused in a snow storm
and tried to take on off ramp while they were on an overpass, which
plunged car the car, headfirst, to the highway below. As I recall, the
puppet master was the only survivor. I used to see his Dad from time to
time as the temple and heard that his son fully recovered and served a
mission.

A year or two after that, I ran into the people who played Priscilla and
the Costume Designer when I was out west for a wedding. They smuggled me
into their dorm room at the Y where we talked all night. At one point
one of their friends walked in and, looking shocked, said "You've got a
man in your room!" "No", they replied, "this is Craig," as if that
explained everything.

Some years after that I ran into Costume Designer at the temple – she
was working the sealing appointment desk on the sealing floor and my
family and I were there for a sealing. It was great to see her and I
think we both intended to stay in touch, but life sometimes makes a
habit out of distracting us from our intentions.

I saw a thing the paper, years after that, that one of the cast members
had been elected to the Utah State legislature – yet another famous
actor had entered politics.

One morning, several years after, I was surfing through the channels and
there was another of the stars flogging some get rich quick with real
estate scam. Hey, he was in Hawaii and I wasn't, so I shouldn't be
implying any judgment.

Thinking back, I'm not sure exactly why TPTB created roadshows, but I
suspect that every once in while there's a group of the youth who get
the chance to do something memorable. And all the other lame, boring
roadshows that everyone else has to be in or sit through are just the
tax to pay to make those potentially few moments happen.

Here's to the roadshows that succeed in turning into good memories.

John S. Colton

unread,
Nov 22, 2005, 5:58:54 PM11/22/05
to
On Tue, 22 Nov 2005 21:34:24 -0000, The Poster Formerly Known as Craig
Olson wrote:

[snip]


>Thinking back, I'm not sure exactly why TPTB created roadshows, but I
>suspect that every once in while there's a group of the youth who get
>the chance to do something memorable. And all the other lame, boring
>roadshows that everyone else has to be in or sit through are just the
>tax to pay to make those potentially few moments happen.
>
>Here's to the roadshows that succeed in turning into good memories.


So I'm guessing you played Miles Standish?

Anyway, thanks for the series of highly entertaining and memorable
stories!

John, who participated in one "non-road" roadshow which was fairly
typical of the genre

The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson

unread,
Nov 26, 2005, 8:43:12 AM11/26/05
to
John S. Colton wrote:
> The Poster Formerly Known as Craig Olson wrote:
>>
>>Here's to the roadshows that succeed in turning into good memories.
>
> So I'm guessing you played Miles Standish?

Actually, I played the announcer; it was a great part because I stood
off to one side of the stage and got to watch the whole production. It
had enough people who enjoyed the spotlight that we weren't short of
volunteers to play the major roles. (I'm trying to remember, but I think
it's possible that the person who played John Alden was the one elected
to the state legislature).

> Anyway, thanks for the series of highly entertaining and memorable
> stories!

My intent was to hopefully offer the newsgroup's readers something other
than circular debate or puppetry.

> John, who participated in one "non-road" roadshow which was fairly
> typical of the genre

I think being on the road with your show added a bit of something extra;
you had to adhere to a tight schedule and would typically show up at the
next ward with a few minutes to spare, haul everything and everyone into
the building, put on your show, haul it all back out and dash off for
the next building. It added a sort of scavenger hunt type of uncertainty
to the process.

I suspect this was quite different in areas where you could walk between
ward buildings, but in my area at the time the Stake covered the better
part of an entire major metropolitan area, and it took 20-30 minutes of
driving to get between buildings.

I can remember driving from one show to the next one year - I had the
flats on the roof of my car, which we were holding one with our hands
out the windows until a gust of wind lifted them up and they all flew
off backwards. So we just pulled over, grabbed them back out of the
traffic, stuck the now slightly damaged goods back on the roof and took
off. I don't think anyone in the audience noticed the tire tracks across
one of the scenes.

That was also the year that my alternator died and I had to drive around
with my headlights turned off. Driving by faith on a mission from God.

Craig

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