Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The theater

Wick's World

 

October 11, 2018



My history with theater goes back 55 years when I played the villain in a Chamberlain High School class play. I had the part of an aging night manager at a two-bit hotel. It was a classic ‘who-done-it?’ Our costume designer put me in an oversized gray suit and dusted my hair with white flour and I was told to slouch while on the witness stand.

The prosecutor pointed his finger at me and yelled, “It was you Mr. Barclay, who killed the deceased and dumped her body in the back alley.”

Instead of politely replying, “Why, yes indeed sir. I admit I killed that woman,” I took off running.

I was supposed to run out of a crowded courtroom but in this instance, I ran down the center aisle of our high school auditorium. Of course, I was immediately caught and dragged back to the witness chair.

Unlike OJ, I sang like a canary. “Of course, I did it!” I screamed. “I hated that old bag of bones!” or something to that effect.

I guess it all worked. An under-sized 16-year-old nerd had successfully transformed into a 60-year-old hotel manager.

After the show, I asked a friend how I did. He said without hesitation, “You looked like you were drunk.”

Those were not exactly the words I was looking for. I could say that was the moment my idol changed from Oscar to Jack Daniels, but that would be a lie. I took a liking to Jack long before I ever realized Oscar was something a movie star aspired to.

Although that was the last time I was ever on stage, my son took up the banner. This time the stage was Moose Lake High School and, although he was only an eighth-grader at the time, the character that got him the school Oscar was his role as Tom Sawyer.

The most memorable line from that play was, “You’re the Finn kid. They call you Blueberry!”

He starred in several plays after that, for which I take no credit.

I rejoined the theater, this time in the audience, shortly after I got my DD 214, the discharge paper that was most precious to us Vietnam era draftees. I packed my duffle bag and took off for the big city: New York City to be exact. Although I spent much of my time in the Greenwich Village scene, I was dazzled by the bright lights on Broadway. My first Broadway play was “Hair,” of which I was getting less of each day. Although there was already some nudity in the play, the most memorable moment came at the finale.

Someone on-stage said, “Are there any cops in the audience?” as if that would make a difference.

The actor then proceeded to pass out a handful of ‘joints’ which filled the theater with the unmistakable odor that identified the 60s.

A few weeks later, I was back on Broadway for the musical “Oh, Calcutta!” This time, smoking pot in public was no longer a shocker. Most back alleys and park benches sufficed, at least in New York City, while America’s finest, the men in blue with the badge in front, turned their backs. “Oh, Calcutta!” was remarkable for its nudity throughout. Also, at the drop of the curtain, the actors were dressed in delightful, gorgeous attire. When the curtain rose up for the encore and applause from the audience, the actors wore nothing. Zilch! They were once again in their birthday suits! Needless to say, this was far from shocking because it was well known in advance that the nudity was the best part of the play.

It was a long time before I went to another play on Broadway. Instead, I started hitting up the theaters in the Twin Cities. Once in the early 80s, I went to “Miss Saigon.” I would later go to this same play but I specifically remember the first time I went. I looked at my theater ticket and it said DD214! My assigned seat was in Row DD and I had seat number 214. I wanted to scream out the uncanny coincidence, but I knew it had meaning for only those of us who had served.

I’m still recovering from my latest theatrical experience, “Hamilton”. My wife and I, along with my son and his wife, had entered a lottery for tickets to “Hamilton” at an affordable price of $125 each. Much better than the $1,000 per ticket that was being offered around the country. As a precursor to next week’s story, my wife won the lottery, all four of us went to “Hamilton”, and I learned how to appreciate not only American history, but also rap, as in rap music.

 

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