PHIL IN THE BLANK: Closing time

The curtain has fallen (or more like slid across the stage) on the Clarkston Village Players show I’ve been working with, “Morning’s At Seven.”
It’s my fourth production so far, all with CVP within the last couple years. Its closing leaves me with the same bittersweet sense of accomplishment and loss I’ve felt with the others.
No more lining up for make up, sneaking behind a curtain to get into position stage-right for an entrance, walking on stage near the end of Act I to trigger the main plot, or Debbie Kramer’s awesome chocolate chip cookies, which she made for us a couple times.
My role was relatively small but my character, David, liked to lecture Jim Pike’s character, Carl, so I had some sizable passages to learn.
Only after getting the lines down, almost two months, did I realize what they were saying.
David spent most of his scenes on stage trying to help Carl with his “where-am-I spells.” He would wander around, wondering who he was, saying he should have been a dentist.
Sort of like Hermey the elf in the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” television special. Being a dentist was just one of those things back then, I suppose.
The other characters thought he just needed to calm down, but David decided he was having where-am-I-in-life existential crises.
I told him he would have those thoughts no matter if he was a builder, which he was, or a dentist. Pretty deep, David.
It was also near the end of rehearsals just before opening night before I realized what David was doing in his last scene with Esther, my stage wife played by Kay Lewis.
I thought he was being defensive, with lines like “we’ve kept our lives clear and intelligent” and “we’ve kept ourselves to ourselves,” but then decided he was actually trying to explain himself and his actions to his wife.
She takes him back. “You see, I’ve always had you, David,” she would say.
I would say “thank you,” and rub my head abashedly. That got at least one “aww” from the audience.
That was cool. I’ll remember that one.

3 Responses to "PHIL IN THE BLANK: Closing time"

  1. Debbie Kramer   January 24, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    It was such fun to work with you Phil! It really did seem like were “family” when we were in Mornings at Seven. It took me a while to get my real life bearings back after we all left the stage for that last time. I also enjoyed getting to meet your awesome family. You were so calm, me well not so much! I had those very real new actor jitters going most days. I really didn’t want to let anyone down. I hope we get to work together again soon!
    Debbie Kramer

    • Phil Custodio   January 25, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Thanks, Debbie! These things are awesome but they do take a bit of time to recover from afterwards. Looking forward to working with you again sometime, too!

  2. Lois Sprengnether Keel   March 20, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Phil,
    I like your Phil in the Blank title (kinda like when my husband had a column he called On an Even Keel). I was working on my taxes and checked to see if the show performances kept me from a monthly commitment. I really enjoyed reading your write-up. Yes, it was definitely a Family with all its good and upsetting times and working it out. That was onstage, but offstage it usually is one, too, and this was one. It’s such fun that Debbie’s gone on to play in two shows this season. Theatre is addictive. I had to be away for a long time due to a work schedule that didn’t permit it. Once, maybe 14 years ago, Clarkston Village Players began to be possible, I’ve gone on to a number of local community theatre groups and played a wide variety all within 1/2 an hour of my Springfield Township home. (You Can’t Take It With You for Pontiac Theatre IV is coming up.) Reading your memories shows precisely why we do all of this! It’s always a pleasure to see you, onstage or at CVP member events. We’re always looking to “hook” somebody new with this theatre addiction.


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