Sunday, August 4, 2013


In the summer of 1977, I was in a play at Clarksville Civic Theatre called Sir Slob and the Princess. I have almost no memories of this show. I believe I was the King. Looking on the Samuel French website, it seems to be about a fellow named Sir Slob (that was my friend Kevin) who set out to win the hand of the Princess Rosebud. (Presumably, that was my daughter.)

But I remember much better the Hilldale Kiwanis Summer Theatre show that year: Camelot. This production really captivated me, and I came back to see it several times. I particularly remember Bruce Opie's Arthur, Tommy Winters' Pellinore, and Tommy Thayer's Mordred. Bruce was in our wonderful quartet in The Music Man, and for quite a while all I ever wanted to be able to do in life was to stand onstage and sing like him. I think my love and respect for the awesome power of theatre really grew while watching this show. It is a very healthy thing for an actor to see performances of a show repeatedly. You learn a lot.

This was the year that Annie appeared on the Tony Awards. Why oh why, I remember wondering, couldn't it be called "Andy" instead? Then I could star in it!

Elvis died. I believe I remember that Gomer Pyle was interrupted that afternoon for the breaking news bulletin.

Saturday Night Fever premiered, and disco was upon us. I never liked disco. But I do remember Billy Joel's The Stranger, which came out this year. I liked that. The man made music.

So I turned 14, and entered 9th grade at the Greenwood Annex. I guess technically I was a high school freshman, although it was really treated more like another year of junior high. The TAG class took a trip to New Orleans to see the King Tut exhibit. It was on this bus trip that I met Jerry Hunt, who has been a friend and collaborator for many years.

But anyway, as I've been writing these posts, here's the fact that I have the hardest time accepting: This is the year that I met T. Webb, the speech and drama teacher, and participated in a speech tournament. Did we have semesters back then? It's possible that I wasn't in T. Webb's class until 1978, but it was definitely in the 9th grade. This was, approximately, one year after I played Winthrop in The Music Man. I think of myself as a child as Winthrop, but well on my way to adulthood by the time I was in T. Webb's class. Very hard for me to reconcile that year's passage in my mind. I would easily believe that three years must have passed between Winthrop and T. Webb.

But my brother had been in T. Webb's class, and liked it, so I was looking forward to it. This is another place where I really "found myself". In a speech tournament, I performed three of James Thurber's "Fables for Our Time": "The Little Girl and the Wolf", "The Unicorn in the Garden", and "The Owl Who Was God". Is this when we went to Gatlinburg for the tournament? I seem to remember doing well in the tournament, but not winning.

And finally, I believe this is the year when I definitely realized that there were pretty girls in the world.

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