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Monday, July 23, 2012

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 31 Back in Albany New York


Annie Get your Gun was close to opening, so every night I was at rehearsal. 


The stage was a series of platforms attached to each other and stood about 3 feet off the floor. 


During the dance of “Sun in the Morning, Moon at Night,” the stampeding of the herds was amplified to a deafening thud. It was clear that we were all tapping our own version of the show.

A rumor ran through the cast. It had Mimi and the actor playing Frank Butler romantically linked. The actor playing Frank would wink anytime anyone in the chorus would ask him about the affair. 


There was a lot of grumbling about it from many in the cast, because Mimi’s husband was the Producer. I figured it was none of my business and I stayed clear. I had the Walrus up my ass at every turn.

I adored Mimi and her husband Barry. They would go out of their way to ask if I needed anything and if everything was ok. When the Walrus would get to be too much I would excuse myself and go to the bathroom. 

In the stall next to me I could hear the man playing Charlie putting away the booze. He would sneak in there as often as I did but to drink.  If you were near him on stage you were forced to hold your breath because if you didn’t, the fumes would kill you.

I had to get back on stage. We were working out all the problems in our Indian number. One of the classic numbers in this show is a racist little ditty sung by Sitting Bull. It’s called “I’m an Indian too.” In the number Annie was being made an Indian by Sitting Bull. Mimi and sitting bull would dance around each other while the chorus donned “Orange Face” and joined in.

Sitting Bull was 250 pounds, curly blonde hair and had a heavy Brooklyn accent. The color of his skin was nightly changed to a deep brownish orange, he was dressed in a tunic and a giant headdress topped off his look. 

The actor playing Sitting Bull was blind as a bat. He didn’t have contacts and was forced to not wear his glasses on stage. As a solution; the cast would walk him in the right direction for the whole show and his number. When it came time for his big dance break, he would stand center while Mimi danced around him.

“I’m and Indian too, a Sioux oh oh, a Sioux” Mimi would squawk in her nasally New Yawk accent.

The Walrus called me over and leaned in close to me I could smell stale booze and cigarettes. I stared into his bloodshot eyes. “I’m sure that no one in the Sioux nation minced around like you do,” he hissed at me. Shocked, I just smiled and walked away. We were 4 days from the official opening and I wanted to scream “Fuck you,” and quit. Instead I headed back to the bathroom.

The actor playing Charlie was in there again. He finished hiking up his pants and headed over to the sink to wash his hands “Jesus kid,” he slurred “You’re in here more than I am.” I nodded and briskly slid into a stall.

When I came out of the stall, Barry was standing there. “Is everything alright?” he asked me placing a hand on my shoulder. I was trying to just keep it together at the moment when I burst into sobbing. I blurted the whole story out about how the Walrus would say the nastiest things to me. Barry was shocked to say the least. He handed me a Kleenex and promised me that something would be done. An hour later Mimi pulled me to the side and had me repeat the entire story I had told Barry.

“Don’t worry honey,” Mimi said to me. “It will all be alright.” She patted my hand and went right back to rehearsal.

That night when I got home, Jonathan had a million questions for me. “What was Liz wearing?” “Did she look pretty tonight?” “Did she ask about me?” He literally was in my way every step I walked. “Did she have fun at dinner?” “Does she want to come back?” He was jumping out of his skin.

“Jonathan, give me a moment,” I said as I pushed past him, dropping my bags and heading into the bathroom. He continued to ask me questions through the closed bathroom door. I turned on the water to drown him out.

To be continued…….

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent. 

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