Three Degrees of Separation

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I claim to be only 3 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. I make that claim due to a play I did 29 years ago this summer. The Charleston Light Opera Guild always had a summer show, and that year the show was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum". The summer shows were an opportunity for some of the high school dancers who were in our director's dance studio to have roles on stage, and see if they wished to pursue dancing and acting further. Well, one of the high school dancers played a courtesan, and I remember her distinctly as she had a blue jewel in her belly button. Her name? Jennifer Garner. But I cannot bring many other memories of her back over this time period (btw - that gives you a good idea how old she is now as you see her on the Capital One ads).


No, this tale is about another of these high school dancers, who contributed to the single best moment I ever had while either on stage, or in an audience watching a play. First, a bit of background on Forum, as it was known. This was a slapstick musical comedy set back in Roman days, where a cunning slave named Pseudolus was continually plotting to gain his freedom. He belonged to my character, Senex, an older man who was dominated by his wife Domina (subtle this play ain't). Meanwhile, my son Hero was in love with a courtesan-in-training who was owned by the brothel owner Lycus, who just happened to live next door to me. The play is a series of comic scenes ending up with a family reunion, Hero being able to marry his love, and Pseudolus able to gain his freedom. On Broadway and in the movie, Zero Mostel played Pseudolus. It was the funniest show I've ever been in, even without the events I am about to relate.


Now, of the courtesans, Jennifer already was decently endowed. But another of the courtesans needed a bit more augmentation in the breast area. This was accomplished through the means of two water balloons strategically placed in her upper costume. We had done many rehearsals, and several performances, and the water balloons served their purpose admirably.


Except, for the one night, where one didn't. Our dancer (whose name will remain anonymous to protect her), was out shaking her booty as she displayed her wares for a potential buyer. That night, one of the water balloons escaped its bondage, and bounded on down to the floor.


Now odds were that the water balloon was going to burst once it hit the floor. This being Forum, of course that didn't happen. What did happen was that the water balloon bounced, then rolled to a stop halfway across the stage. When it stopped rolling, one of the eunuchs pranced over to the water balloon, went "Oh! Oh!", scooped it up in his hands, and presented it back to the unbalanced courtesan. I can't remember exactly what she did, but the audience and most of the cast broke up, eventually leading to the show going on.


If we ever could have been assured that the water balloon would not burst, we would have built that into the blocking and it would have been the funniest thing ever in a scene. So it is ironic that in my one legitimate attempt to be a name dropper on one of my acquaintances, it was her friend, who never made the trip to Hollywood and became a big star, who left the greatest impression on me. As it turns out, that was the last big play I've been in, as I had just gotten married, and life in the form of children interrupted for a long time. But if that was my swan song for the musical stage, what a way to exit.


Posted first on my blog,


Ryan Messano Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:10pm
Much ado about nothing.
Rome burns while Nero fiddles.  Couldn’t you find anything better to write about?
Dave Volek Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:49pm
Nice story!
I guess that makes me 4 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.
Ryan Messano Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:58pm
^^^^ I thought only women do silent treatment. Dave here is well practiced.
Cant win a debate?
Take your toys and hide.
Leroy Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:02pm
I used to know someone who knew the grape in the Fruit of the Loom ads.  What does it make me?
Flying Junior Added Jun 11, 2018 - 4:26am
A friend of the mighty testicle.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 10:47am
Thanks Dave.
Ryan - not everything is about politics or religion.
Leroy - that reminds me of the time I was at a bar in Memphis and one of the two kids on the show Flipper was there and I got to meet him.
FJ - Good one.
Ryan Messano Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:08am
EABC: So says the apathetic.  The corrupt political leaders love your type.  They allow their corruption to go on, unchallenged.
TexasLynn Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:21am
Ryan >> Much ado about nothing.
Now Ryan, not every post has to solve (or even discuss) a pressing world problem.  (written before EABC's comment)
Shared experiences, even if just for entertainment, are a welcome diversion; at least for me.
Critical analysis of posts and ideas are part of the trade here; but I would suggest being more selective as to when to apply that criticism.  Selective and less diluted analysis, being more effective in my opinion.
Personally, I have found value in your re-emergence on WB; though I believe your personal attacks go a bit too far (though no worse than others on this site).  I much prefer concentrating on the validity and truth behind ideas; and let that be the reflection of the individual holding them.
You and I, probably agree on more than we disagree; but I look forward to one of those disagreements. :)
Proverbs 9:7-9 (NIV) Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
TexasLynn Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:21am
Enjoyed the story.  I have always been a fan of the theater though only as a patron.  When I lived in Houston I would often go to off-Broadway performances.
My favorite play being Les Misérables due to the Christian and redemptive theme.  I have attended that production many times and of course bought the soundtrack.  I can sing (if you call what I do singing) the part of Jean Valjean or Javier with ease. :)
Other favorites include: Miss Saigon, Wicked, Will Rogers Follies, Sweeny Todd (Broadway, not the movie)
Every couple of years I will make an effort to take my nieces and nephews to see a show.  We dress up in our Sunday bests, have a great meal and see the show.  I hope those are fond memories they have of me, when I am gone. :)
Ryan Messano Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:35am
That's a good verse, TL.  My motto is the enemy of my enemies is my friend, and so you are my friend.
I believe we are in this mess because of too much focus on entertainment and diversions and not enough focus on what really matters.
FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful
Solomon also said "Open rebuke is better than secret love".  He also said a rod for the back of a fool.  When a society is ruled and dominated by mockers and scoffers, there is no choice but to rebuke them.
Bill H. Added Jun 11, 2018 - 12:17pm
EABC - Thanks for the great article!
TL - Thanks for trying to keep this post from getting hijacked and ruined!
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 1:50pm
TexasLynn - thanks for the assist. When I quit theatre, I got back into church choir and other choral singing, which kind of fulfilled the performance bug that I've had. Now I could not go back to doing shows live because the knees wouldn't hold up. Even though I was the bane of choreographers, I am proud of having been in many musicals, and performing at least a form of dance in them. I even made it into two ballets, Nutcracker for the party scene, and Sleeping Beauty in a non-dancing role. I was on stage with members of the American Ballet Theatre for that one in Memphis.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 1:50pm
Bill - Glad you liked it. It was quite a moment on stage for sure.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:05pm
Broken Clock: Nice article, really gives a good flavour of you and of what you've done. If you were even an extra for the American Ballet Theatre, that beats my playing the tuba in my village band any day!
Leroy Added Jun 11, 2018 - 8:11pm
"A friend of the mighty testicle. "
Some folks might take that as a racial insult.
White Hair'd Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:22pm
It's those water balloon moments that help make life worth living.
Flying Junior Added Jun 12, 2018 - 3:40am
A light heart.  A sense of humor.  A love for fellow humans...
These things can make an accidental slight nothing to really worry about.
Leroy Added Jun 12, 2018 - 8:53am
"These things can make an accidental slight nothing to really worry about. "
Yes.  I agree.  But if Trump or I were to call a hardworking black American actor a "mighty testicle," the MSM and the WB liberals would crucify us.
White Hair'd Added Jun 12, 2018 - 9:05am
overheard at the Acropolis: "Testicles... did you cut that cheese"?
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 12, 2018 - 10:37am
Neil - just to be clear, I was with the Memphis Ballet, who imported some ABT dancers for their performance of Sleeping Beauty. Even at my best I would never be mistaken for a dancer. The role of King was strictly a pantomime role. Let me tell you though - I gained a hell of a lot of respect for any dancer who dances on point. I saw more bloody feet than I ever expected from the corps of dancers.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 12, 2018 - 10:38am
Luther - agreed about the moments worth living. Now, the rhyme .......
wsucram15 Added Jun 12, 2018 - 11:03am
EABC..another good one.  Great anecdote.
TL..enjoy the theatre?  Loved Les Misérables and Sweeney Todd.  But have not seen Wicked yet...going this year to the Gerschwin with my daughter. 
TexasLynn Added Jun 12, 2018 - 11:30am
TL..enjoy the theatre?
Some of us are full of surprises... are we not?  My buddy and sometimes WB contributor RW gives me grief over this liberal indulgence.
Jeanne >> Sweeney Todd...
I saw the original with Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett... she was phenomenal. I think there is a DVD of that production.  I highly recommend it.
I also forgot another favorite... Into the Woods (originally with Bernadette Peters as the witch).  Also on DVD if I'm not mistaken.
Jeanne >> ... have not seen Wicked yet.
You will love it.  My nieces tell me it is their favorite so far.  The Gerschwin production should be a step above the touring production we saw.  Enjoy!
TexasLynn Added Jun 12, 2018 - 12:45pm
I guess I can share my experience concerning Will Rogers Follies. :) (Warning: spoilers)
When I saw that production, I had pretty good seats (Seven or eight rows back).  A friend and I sat down and just before the curtain rose, a VERY eccentric man sat down next to us (oddly dressed and with an old-timey mustache).  Throughout a third of the show, he occasionally made comments just loud enough for quite a few of us around him to hear.  It was very uncharacteristic of a theater patron.  BUT his comments were hilarious; they really added to the show.
For example, at one point in the play Rogers meets his future wife and comments that he can't wait to "hear her sing".  She asks how does he know she sings, and his reply is something to the effect.  "This is a Ziegfeld production; you're not scantily clad... so you must sing."  Right after that a scantily clad young lady brings out a telegram (or something like that) to Mr. Rogers; to which our gentleman comments "Bet she don't sing." :)
I set up this story to inform you that about a third of the way through the play; the story progresses to the point in Will Roger's life where starts traveling the world with pilot, Wiley Post.  Will shields his eyes and looks out over the audience and calls to his pilot... a spotlight hits the man sitting next to us, he stands and yells "Let's go flyin' Will!"
From that point forward, he is a character in the play, from his seat next to us.  He often encourages Will... "Let's go flyin' Will!"; and since this is the story of Will Rogers eventually they do... and both are killed in a crash in Alaska.
While the production does end on a tragic note... it is a very uplifting show.  I love the songs "Never Met a Man I Didn't Like" and "Give a Man Enough Rope"; both (I think) really capture the spirit of Will Rogers.
Note: Will Rogers is listed as one of my heroes... from an earlier post... My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 18, 2018 - 10:38am
Thanks, TexasLynn. I'll have to catch the show if it comes to town in a touring production.
There's something about the Oklahoma and Texas perspectives for observations of life. I think of Woody Guthrie, and Will Rogers, and Molly Ivins. I can't imagine (well, yes I can) what Molly Ivins would have said regarding Donald Trump. The phrase evisceration by prose comes to mind.
TexasLynn Added Jun 18, 2018 - 11:21am
EABC >> Thanks, TexasLynn. I'll have to catch the show if it comes to town in a touring production.
Please do.  You'll enjoy it.
EABC >> There's something about the Oklahoma and Texas perspectives for observations of life. I think of Woody Guthrie, and Will Rogers, and Molly Ivins.
Oh EABC... you had my total respect on the first two... but then you had to go off the deep end.  Woody and Will were humorous, classy, and introspective.  Molly Ivins, was just crass and vulgar.  You do a disservice to the former two, by including them in the same sentence with the latter. :)
EABC >> I can't imagine (well, yes I can) what Molly Ivins would have said regarding Donald Trump. The phrase evisceration by prose comes to mind.
I would much rather imagine what Woody or Will would have had to say on the subject/man.  Cutting, funny and revealing... come to mind.  Molly, not so much.  But her shrill, screeching pros would fit right in with today's environment.  In that regard she was ahead of her time.
Another line from Will Rogers Follies went something like this.
Asked if he would run for President... Rogers responds, "I know the American people are used to just about anything running for office, but I don't think they sunk so low as to accept a professional actor."
That is me paraphrasing the quote... but supposedly, Rogers really did say that.  Yet... me being a conservative and a BIG fan of Reagan; I found that little dig hilarious.
Again, I did enjoy the post and thank you for letting me add my nickle's worth of comments.  Hope you enjoyed them.

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