Reporter returns to the Stage

 

By Mark Arike
Staff writer, The Highlander

Thursday, July 25 2013
They’ve come to know me as the “man in the chair”.
It’s certainly not a role that’s going to get me much stage time or the Academy Award
for best actor – but at least I’ll get my 15 minutes of local fame.
When Jack Brezina approached me about taking a part in the Highlands Summer
Festival’s production of The Sunshine Boys, I was hesitant to accept the offer. It
wasn’t about the money – all cast members volunteer their time to appear on the stage.
My primary concern was a lack of time. Every weekend in the Highlands seems to
be jam-packed with events, so as you can imagine it’s quite a gamble for this reporter to
spend 2.5 hours of a Saturday in rehearsal. With a few choice words and a significant
amount of arm twisting, the president of the Summer Festival sucked me in. I was told my
lines would be minimal and that I wouldn’t even have to attend all of the rehearsals.
When I saw the script, I felt pretty good about my lines.
“Ahhh.”
“Ahhh!”
“Ahhh!”
And that’s half the role right there! I felt a great sense of relief – until I took a closer
look at the script and realized that local actor David Mills, who plays the role of Willie
Clark, would be shoving an over-sized tongue depressor in my mouth.
At my first rehearsal, I was informed that the stick wouldn’t actually go down
my throat. Mills was going to stand in front of me so that it would appear as if I
was swallowing the stick. Throw in some convincing choking sounds and you’ve got
the perfect optical illusion.
For those who haven’t seen the play or watched the film, The Sunshine Boys is a
comedy that was written by Neil Simon. The play shines the spotlight on Al Lewis (Glen
Carter) and Clark, a one-time vaudevillian team known as “Lewis and Clark”, who
grew to hate each during their 40-odd years on stage together. When they appear in
The Sunshine Boys, the year is 1972 and the television station CBS invites them to
reunite for a special on the history of comedy. Throughout the play, the two bicker and
engage in shenanigans guaranteed to generate audience laughter.
This week I’ll head into a dress rehearsal on the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion
stage. I’m not feeling those butterflies yet, but I’m sure that will change come opening
night.
Actually, now that I think about, I’m a trained veteran. Does anyone remember my
cameo in the 2010 production of Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest? As a dead
person, I had to sit completely still for 20 minutes and couldn’t even say one word!
Ahh, the price some of us pay for fame and glory.
Don’t miss the opening night of The Sunshine Boys on July 29 at 8 p.m. at the
Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion. The show runs until Aug. 9.
For tickets call the box office at 705-457-9933.
*Note: I will fill the role of “the man in the chair” for the first four nights, while Steve
Galea will sit in the hot seat for the final five performances.

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