As that Variety-esque headline screams, the reviews are in.
â€œI hope you take this as a complimentâ€¦ I really HATED you!!!â€
– Random Audience Member #1
â€œYouâ€™re a complete bastard!!!â€
– Random Audience Member #2
â€œAs your mother, the woman who played a major role in your conception, I can only wonder â€“ where did all that RAGE come from?â€
– My Mom
Oh, and theÂ Worcester Telegram & Gazette gave the Gateway Playersâ€™ Production of One Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest a rave review. Their highest in fact.
Iâ€™ve slightly modified their scale (they use stars from 1 to 4) to suit my own wicked purposes but whether weâ€™re talking 5 Ed Heads, 2 Ebert Thumbs or 4 Shiny Gold Stars, the fact remains the same â€“ we pulled a Pokemon andÂ caught them all. We aced it.
As I write this, I am enjoying a little R&R between production weekends. After the marathon session that ran last week, starting with our technical rehearsal on Monday and running nightly (with only one day off) through the three live productions that dotted each weekend day/night, this little siesta was well-earned by my fellow hard working cast mates and newfound buddies. Some day, Iâ€™ll walk you all through the whole process, making sure to embellish all the backstage sex, lies and videotaped shenanigans, but as weâ€™re in the midst of the show â€“ merely taking a breather between curtain calls â€“ I want to tread lightly on any show spoilers. I was fortunate to help entertain a good number of friends and family during each of this past weekendâ€™s performances and have another healthy contingent standing on deck for the next salvo so I would hate to spoil anyoneâ€™s enjoyment.
That said, I did want to let yâ€™all in on a few little anecdotes to whet your appetite. If you reserved tickets for this weekendâ€™s show â€“ Good On You â€“ because as of yesterday evening, we are all SOLD OUT!!! As my cousin Jason declared on his site, â€œYou’reÂ like The Producers of Southbridgeâ€. A fact that had me scrambling to my contract looking to see if there was any legalese preventing our director Dave Corkum from extending our initial booking to 50 additional weekends including 4 ON ICE performances. If anyoneâ€™s looking for me from February 2nd through the 21st, 2009 â€“ Iâ€™ll be somewhere in Luxembourg entertaining the royal court of King Alexander von Halenstein IV. And come May ’09, weâ€™ll find out once and for all if the soothing, melodic sadism of Aide Warren plays in Peoria.
So for those of you clutching hard to those Golden Tickets for this weekendâ€™s show, I think the reviews speak for themselves. You are in for a good time. And if you donâ€™t have a good time, Iâ€™ll beat one in to you. I know what you are thinking. Our Ed (or Eddie – depending upon which side of the family fence you reside) could never be that mean. Heâ€™s a veritable angel of mercy â€“ why, everybody knows it. Heâ€™s unselfish as the wind, toiling thanklessly for the good of all, day after day, seven days a week. Well, youâ€™ll see. In this show, Iâ€™m a bitchâ€¦ A BITCH!!!
While Iâ€™d like to tread lightly on spoilers or any backstage dirt, I do have one tale that needs to be told before I lose total recall of it. Remember, I have to see these people in a couple of days and the regimen of pushes and shoves that I and my fellow Aide Williams dole out during a given performance has left their share of scars and remembrance â€“ I donâ€™t need to give this cast any more fodder for revenge. As it is, if youâ€™re reading this, I am likely already dead.
But there are a few little morsels I can jam into your cake hole which shouldnâ€™t ruffle too many feathers. And plus,Â as the old maxim goes â€“ itâ€™s funny â€˜cause it happened to someone else.
Take Scanlon for instance.
(Editorâ€™s Note â€“ To avoid a repeat of last yearâ€™s flurry of slander suits that came my way when I openly mocked the Jonas Brothers as Hanson 2.0, Iâ€™m not gonnaâ€™ drop any actorâ€™s names. Sure, thereâ€™s a picture of him clear as day below but the subject of said picture is clearly that gleaming salt shaker. Pay no mind to the dude raging above it).
Anyway, a few weeks back, I wrote that if I ever find myself in a foxhole, I want a thespian alongside me as these theater-types kick unholy amounts of ass. At the time, I offered up Michael Crawford as my personal Kimbo Slice. â€˜F the Phantom, I say. If Iâ€™m storming the beach at Normandy, I want Scanlon by my side. If he can muster up half the mustard that he hurled at a poor defenseless Applebeeâ€™s waiter then just imagine what he could do against the Axis of Evil.
Iâ€™ll set the table. It was Friday night and we had finished our first live performance. This was the night that â€œTHE CRITICâ€ was in the house so everyone was a bit on edge. One screw-up and suddenly weâ€™re looking at a [edhead 1.0] review and it would be back to the bread lines for the lot of us. Iâ€™d played enough dime nickelodeons and plus-sized burlesque shows that Iâ€™d be six feet under and pushing up daisies before I beat my feet in retreat back to that side of the street. (You think Scanlon is fierce â€“ if my 9th Grade English Composition teacher catches wind of that last sentence, itâ€™s back to dangling participles for this young wordsmith).
Anyway, the grease paint splashed on my mug may be relatively wet but Iâ€™ve seen enough to catch on that when â€œTHE CRITICâ€ is in the house, youâ€™ve got to bring youâ€™re â€˜A Gameâ€™. No chance we could crawfish that night. So, we did what all professionals do when the chips are down and itâ€™s for all the marbles and the clichÃ©s are stacked. We each downed a jug of Red Bull and Booneâ€™s Farm and stumbled onto the stage of history. (Or wait, is that what Kevin Millar does?)
While we hit a few technical difficulties, with lights dropped a tad bit too early, we clearly kicked ass. We Got Game!
If I can break the 4th wall and dispense with the silliness for a moment, I can honestly say that I am incredibly proud to be but a minor cog in this talented machine. My self-imposed marching orders before plunging into this project were quite simple, try to rise from â€˜Suckâ€™ to â€˜Middlingâ€™ and donâ€™t gum up the works. Being as amateur as they come, my greatest fear was that I would either derail the entire show or somehow convince Dave to stage the whole production in the nude. I can assure you, future audience, that neither fear has manifested itself â€“ YET!!! Although now that we haveÂ [edhead 5.0] we can do whatever the hell we want, so bring on â€˜The Puppetry of the Penisâ€™, I say.
Anyway, this is a top-notch group of people. Not just talented actors (which they are â€“ in spades and leagues above me) but also, truly great people. Itâ€™s been two months since Iâ€™ve been folded into this ensemble and as this production has come to life, fueled by our collective energy and passion (and HEART), our personalities have freed themselves from any early, guarded restraints. This group has meshed and I think that really feeds the show. We have a lot of laughs and many more to come (even more so when they catch on to what I have planned for the Cast Party).
All this is preface to the rest of the tale. I wanted to pay homage to a truly great group of people â€“ more than a cast, just genuinely nice individuals who have added further definition to my life. And I wanted to humanize the beast that emerges when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, and Applebeeâ€™s applies too much salt to one manâ€™s salt-free nachos.
That man is Scanlon, or at least, thatâ€™s his stage name so keep those high-powered attorneys at bay, Mr. ScanMan.
Following that epic performance, most of our group meandered on over to Americaâ€™s Favorite Neighborhood Bar and Nacho Emporium, Applebeeâ€™s, for a few wobbly pops and all the Â½ price appetizers our meager stipends could afford which you theater insiders can quickly deduce left us noshing down on all the creamers and ketchup packets we could stomach. When youâ€™ve seen the show and youâ€™ve taken in (or been splashed by) the geyser of drool that erupts from Ruckleyâ€™s mouth every eight minutes or so, youâ€™ll realize quickly that some of us crammed much more of that vile sustenance than others. That Ruckley. He is soooooo Method.
Now, big spender Scanlon wasnâ€™t having any of the condiment-inal breakfast. Not the guy who drops $35.00 on a shot of whiskey like its tap water. He poured through the handy-dandy placard announcing the discount warmed-over apps left looming about since the early dinner rush â€“ leap-frogging the Awesome Blossom and Buffalo Pizzadillas in favor of a big, hearty plate of good-old American nachos con queso. With only one dish to prepare, the legion of wait-staff that we had assembled en masse around us sprinted for the kitchen to prepare Herr Scanlonâ€™s delicacy.
Within moments, they arrived with a feast fit for a Burger King. They deposited the tray in front of the persnickety patron and faded back on their heels, their peepers waiting with baited interest for Scanlonâ€™s triumphant â€œYayâ€ or deflated â€œNay.â€ He took one bite and closed his eyes.
For a moment, there was nothing but calm upon his countenance but then, like those first, fledgling ripples in a water cup that heralded the feared T-Rex arrival in Jurassic Park, slight tremors began to travel across the surface of his face. His brow creased. A crimson tide washed across his complexion. His eyes opened and they had turned to blood. The Eye of Sauron was upon the waiters and slowly it cast its gaze upon them in rapid succession. As each met that stare, they withered. One may have exploded in shear horror, although it was tough to tell. All those flying fragments of red and gristle may have just been the pico de gallo.
â€œTAKE IT BACK!â€, Scanlon commanded.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, me Lord. Does though not desire our fine confection?â€, said the head waiter in the turn of phrase that is all the rage these days.
â€œTAKE IT BACK!!â€, Scanlon repeated. Each word delivered with such venom that all around him, the cockroaches and rats that reside in the rafters above rained from the ceiling.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, my liege. But what seems to be the problem?â€, the foolhardy waiter offered.
And once again, Scanlon unleashed hell.
â€œTAKE IT BACK!!!â€, he roared.
All across town, the signs of the apocalypse manifested. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoesâ€¦ The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living togetherâ€¦ Mass hysteria!
And then he offered this little morsel.
â€œNEEDS MORE SALT!!!!â€
So, they snapped to and took it back to add more salt. When they returned, the battle resumed. Again, he took a bite. Once again his eyes closed. And again, weâ€™re â€˜Armageddon It.â€™ But, this time he pulls the old bait and switch and demands no salt. So they snapped up the cursed chips and cheese and performed a saline exorcism. Within moments, they return and once again he takes a bite. This time, he demands extra salt. But not just any salt.
Dead Sea Salt.
They launch an expedition, traveling clear across the world to fetch their lord the precious salts he requires. Upon their return, he takes a bite.
â€œTOO SALTY! TAKE IT BACK!!!!!â€, he demands.
Back and forth this exchange goes, the two parties dancing a twisted Tango of Death. The sands drain from the hourglass but time freezes for the lot of us. Weâ€™re frozen in our places â€“ our eyes glued to the unfolding drama. When will it end? â€œDaâ€™ horror. Daâ€™ horror.â€
At last, salvation arrives in the form of last call. Suddenly Scanlonâ€™s eyes go blue, the seas quiet, the Earth heals and all is right with the world. For one more night, at least. We settle the tab and shuffle towards the exit. Outside, we pass the night manager whoâ€™s posting a sign: â€œHelp Wanted â€“ One Waiterâ€.
I guess that wasnâ€™t the pico de gallo.
The following morning, I wake with a splitting headache. Fragments of the night before spill across my blurred morning vision. I chalk these phantasms up to night terrors. No way that was real. No way that madness happened.
The next night, Saturday night, we ran the show without â€˜THE CRITICâ€™ in the house â€“ meaning we ran it pants-less. After that, it was off to Unoâ€™s to toast Night Two and take in Game 6 of the ALCS. The whole group is together again and full of good spirit.
As the Unoâ€™s waiter begins making his rounds, taking our appetizer orders, he arrives at Scanlon. A hushed pall settles over the crowd. As a tumbleweed rolls across the table, somewhere in the distance, a lone crow caws.
Waiter: â€œGood evening, sir. Welcome to Unoâ€™s. May I take your order?â€
Scanlon: â€œIâ€™ll have the nachosâ€¦ (Long Pause) Oh, and hold the salt.â€
And like that snake eating its tail, what goes around – has come around again.