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Exit Please

Published on November 19, 2014 by in Stories

Anyone who has been a stage actor for any period of time has probably missed an entrance, at least once. But how many people do you know who have missed exits? Well I did.

It was in the mid nineties and Topeka Civic Theatre and was producing Arsenic and Old Lace. On the last weekend of the show, the actor who was playing Teddy, was hospitalized with a kidney stone. At 11:00 a.m. the director called me and asked me if I could fill in. Never one to turn down an opportunity to appear on stage, I immediately agreed.

When I went to the theatre to get fitted for my costume, the director told me he wanted me to go on off book! So I spent the balance of the afternoon trying to memorize lines.

Fortunately, the role of Teddy, while fairly substantial, exists in several short scenes. I would stand back stage and study the next scene; go on; do the scene; and exit to begin studying the next one.

All was going well until I overstayed my welcome on stage. Marc Penny and Ted Shonka were onstage with me, and tried to signal me to leave. I didn’t take the hint. Finally Ted said, “Teddy, why don’t you go in the kitchen and get yourself a cookie?”

Brilliant. It sounded like something Ted’s character would say; it told me to leave the stage; and even directed me to the proper exit.

“Bully idea!” I shouted and got the heck off the stage.

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