So far this semester, I have seen three different plays at BYU, and all of them have been just fabulous. The most recent one was called “110 in the Shade,” and it was a big, production-number-oriented, large-scale musical with lots of townspersons hopping around and dancing like the kids on “Fame” used to do. The show takes place during the Depression in a little town called Three Point, U.S.A., and all the inhabitants are rednecks, and as we all know, there’s nothing a redneck likes more than singing and dancing when it’s 110 degrees outside. Rednecks, of course, are among the most graceful dancers on earth, right up there with water buffalo.
Which is why it surprised me to see that the rednecks in this town were very good dancers, and the show was very entertaining, although I must confess that it did cause me a few problems. For example, I saw it with a date (we’ll call her “Michelle,” which happens to be her name), which was nice, except that I put my arm around her, which would have been fine, were it not for the fact that it was extremely uncomfortable and my right arm fell soundly asleep. Then, when the play was over, I took my arm back so that I could applaud, only since it was asleep, I really had no control over it, and the result was that when I went to clap, my right hand missed my left hand and went wandering off somewhere. I must have looked like an absolute goob, sitting there, unable to even APPLAUD properly.
Another problem with this show occurred the night after I saw it with Michelle. One of the major stars of the show, whose name I won’t mention in the interest of him not killing me, lives on the same floor I do in Deseret Towers. I was in the bathroom, shaving, which I do faithfully three times a day, when this person walked in and began squeezing blackheads in front of the mirror.
(I would like to parenthetically point out that prior to coming to BYU, I would never, ever, in a million years, squeeze blackheads in the presence of another person, particularly not someone I didn’t know. I have always considered blackheads to be a rather personal problem, and not one that you would publicly acknowledge having, sort of like having an alcoholic in the family.)
Anyway, I said to this person, “Hey, nice job in the play last night.”
He said, “Thanks” in such a manner as to indicate that he was not at all interested in anything I had to say, and he continued with his blackhead removal process.
Desiring to give him one more chance before I dismissed him as a Theater Snot, I said, “Seeing you and all the others reminded me of how much I miss being on stage since high school.”
His response this time was the same as before, except that he omitted the “Thanks” part and instead just kept squeezing blackheads. I finished my shaving and left, silently wishing him so many blackheads that his complexion would begin to resemble stucco.
But despite all this, I am still a major fan of the BYU Theater and Film Department, and I hope all their future shows are successful. I’ll be in the front row, trying to clap.
(Eric D. Snider is a freshman at BYU. He is originally from Lake Elsinore, Calif., where he appeared in six high school plays and was snotty to everyone.)
The guy's name was Ryan Shepherd, and he intimidated me. He and his roommate were both theater guys, and they didn't associate with the rest of us in the dorms very much. We would hear them in their room, though, practicing different styles of singing and just generally acting all theaterey. Ryan did see this column, though, and he thought it was funny, sort of.
Earl the Editor made some adjustments when he printed this column. He removed all mention of squeezing blackheads, replacing it with phrases like "digital complexion maintenance," and things like that. He felt squeezing blackheads was too gross to mention in the article; I countered that this was exactly my point, that it should be a private matter, but he would not budge. Alas.
The "Michelle" referred to here is the same Michelle I went to Homecoming with. She and I saw a lot of plays together, back in those days. Ah, memories....
"110 in the Shade" was based on the play "The Rainmaker" and premiered on Broadway in the 1960s. The lead actress was Inga Swenson, who was later famous as Gretchen the ill-tempered Swedish woman on "Benson." She can be heard on the original Broadway soundtrack for "110 in the Shade," should you happen to come across it at a yard sale somewhere.