Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Vaudevillian Halloween

There has not been a performance in Ontario’s Masonic hall since the closing days of Vaudeville, or so the story goes. That was until husband had the bright idea of hiring it for the day in order for us to try out my one woman show for the second time. Our first attempt was in a tiny space of Detroit’s downtown run by the almost toothless Chris and his kindly one man-one eyed crew. His 100 seat venue home to my moustache’d Mariela chortled at by the 50 or so audience of cast and crew of Young Frankenstein.

This time my producer (I call him husband for short) had coerced 40 or so Walworthian friends and family into giving up their Friday night for a dose of my Sardinian creations. He laid out pizza before hand. They thanked us for our generosity post-show. I was quick to explain the food and beverages were merely bribes to make them laugh.

The “brother” who showed us around zealously described his ghostly encounters in the place. I clock myself checking over my shoulder more than once during rehearsals, wondering whether any vaudevillians would watch my show from the wings flanked perhaps by the apparition of a small Victorian child from the days when the hall was a school house.

Come “opening” night my nerves were such that I had little energy to expend on looking for spooks, spooked enough as I was by my own terror. Boy struts to the front of the stage and booms out the introduction, preceding my first entrance which was greeted by the sorts of confused-repulsed looks I had been frightened of. When husband runs back stage to help me with my quick change into the main character’s daughter (a crazed vision in muddy wedding dress and pregnant belly) I tell him I ought to quit now. He tells me the audience is enjoying themselves, keep up the good work, chin up and get on with it. I do.

By the time I make my entrance as sheep-woman (bunny girl meets lamb chop) their reassuring laughter means I actually begin to enjoy myself. At curtain down (you know you’re doing a one woman show when you have to operate it yourself) I delay crowd-greeting by de-rigging the hung bed sheet and flag “set” till I have summoned enough courage to go out and thank everyone. I am greeted with warm embraces and giggles and find myself grinning with gratitude from beneath my painted facial hair.

At the English family reunion next day, husband is unsurprisingly mugging at the camera as a four year old ham in the projected 16mm home movies. Boy discovered the joys of trick or treating following day, at the end of the legendary Englert’s long darkened drive, where he sang full voice to earn his candy (full size!). So the tradition goes. British Halloween is half hearted in comparison. Our November 5th celebrations often upstage, commemorating the day Guy Fawke’s plot to blow up the houses of parliament in 1605 was foiled. Every year it is customary to “burn the Guy”, literally throwing a patched together dummy on a bonfire. We even let off fireworks. Sort of like building two cardboard towers and throwing burning toy planes at them for a September 11th party in the year 2401. Sardonic British humour isn’t infamous for nothing.

Pa is in Milwaukee, my folks have returned to home turf and ma n’ boy recover from their week of theatre making. Just hoping I did those Vaudevillians proud.


  1. Great job!!! We can't wait to see the show..!

  2. Grazie Sa!!!!! Provo a trovare un modo a spedirvi il video di Mariela girando gli stati uniti....Bacioni from all of us here xxxx

  3. We ♥ Mariela and look forward to hearing more from her in the future.