A West Side Love Story
Officiated by Eric Pinder
Starring Paul Castaneda and Leesa Halstead
August 4, 2012
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL
(AT RISE – A semi dark performance space. A PROJECTION SCREEN displays archival stills from an ancient WEST SIDE STORY production at a LOCAL COMMUNITY THEATER. We recognize the BRIDE and GROOM. In the final frame FRANK HILGENBERG FACE PALMS.)
I thought they were married already; they always acted that way in public. But then what do I know? This isn’t a kiss and tell column, it’s…well, it’s a stream of consciousness, without the emotional baggage of Mrs. Dalloway. The Bachelor Party has come and gone, no major arrests to report, and now it’s time for the distaff pay off. Mysterious people fill the audience; we all have multiple lives and are unaware of those our friends inhabit. Young children running across the stage unaware they should be looking cute, elderly relatives are helped to their seats as they look confused by the seemingly random gender parings in the audience. But this is no Bridezilla Rampage; it’s the Groom who seems most freaked out. I can’t detect a His Side / Her Side seating assignment so I go to the farthest seat in the back. Here I can watch the crowd and if necessary, escape gracefully. To me it’s just another theatre wedding, but with rumors of open bar after the formalities!
(SFX – Ch-chhh. CH-chhh. Ch-chhh. GROOMSMEN enter, dressed in formal black, wife beater tee shirts implied. Smoking fake cigarettes, they harass STRAIGHT MALES STAGE RIGHT and FLIRT WITH STRAIGHT FEMALES STAGE RIGHT. Lesbians are ignored. BETH MARSHALL intones a FRINGE-LIKE PRESHOW. We are encouraged to take pictures and text, but NO RINGTONES. Audience exhibits barely suppressed CONFUSION.)
The groom’s party enters led by John DiDonna, local impresario and minor Party God. He’s with the wedding’s graphic designer (Adam McCabe) and the groom’s soon-to-be stepsons. They smoke but don’t share. The Officiant (Pinder) appears and like most of the crowd, he’s wearing Red Converse. I haven’t seen this many Converse sneakers since I last went to Will’s Pub. Cognitive dissonance: we were told: “NO ONE but the bride wears red! Penalties will be severe!” but almost everyone has a splash or red somewhere.
(SFX – “AMERICA” from “West Side Story” blasts. The BRIDAL PARTY enters. BRIDE LOOKS HOT. Bride’s maids look SLIGHTLY LESS HOT.)
The sound stops abruptly. Negative points on tech savvy. Lighting is sort of dark, not as dramatic as is could be. The upstage wash could be exploited better. I’m nit picking, but hey, these are professionals up there exchanging vows, not some incautious teen agers from different gangs. Imminent sex is no excuse for bad sound or lighting. The Officiant complained to me in the lobby he is marrying the couple but can’t get married himself. I sympathize, but his Converse are better than mine. Now a pair of singers step up, a guy and a gal, very pro. Next a single woman in a Little Black Dress. She drops a few bars. Laughs it off, as if to say: “It’s the thought that counts.” Ok, now down to business…
(OFFICIANT steps forward, makes noises. GROOM stammers and almost cries, but ultimately keeps his composure.)
Note: Groom can’t project for crap.
(BRIDE belts out her lines.)
Bride projects like she’s auditioning the lead for a Community Theatre “Hello, Dolly!” She gets more laughs than Mr. Groom. I’m sensing how THIS relation will pan out. The Groom tells the step kids how much he loves them. They accept this situation wordlessly. But honestly, what’s the worry? It’s Evil Stepmothers that you’re always hearing about.
(OFFICIANT breaks up. OFFICIANT recovers with a cute gag.)
Now people are talking on stage, something about vows. I think they wrote their own, nothing about “death do us part” so they ARE optimists. No one from the Weekly or Sentinel is evident. No sign of The Park Press or Ledger, either and I never can pick out The Watermark’s writers. Looks like I’m it for this show.
(GROOM KISSES BRIDE. BRIDE RESPONDS. Production remains PG)
Ok, just about done. Parents are thanked, crowd thanked, not a bad house. A partisan yet favorable crowd, maybe a dozen empty seats and a Standing Ovation, that’s a given. I know maybe 20% of the house. The Unknowns must be relatives, day jobbers, significant others of those I’m not sure about. Nicole Carson is here, and somehow that validates the whole event.
(EXIT MUSIC – LOUD- PET SHOP BOYS COVER “SOMEWHERE”)
Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa outro. Damn, it’s loud. Needs more bass, a touch of reverb wouldn’t hurt, make the space feel a bit bigger. The hug and kiss line grinds to a halt. I rave dance with the sound tech. Not sure who she is, I’ll bet she’s Zanna’s replacement.
(FADE TO LOBBY and SMASH CUT to RECEPTION)
Geez, look at all this food! Empanadas and plantains, beer and theatre wine. Gotta mingle; see you next week. At least we know GROOM and BRIDE have a tax write off. A small point of stability and that is no small thing these days. I wish them well, and thank them for the great dinner. This was fun!
For more information, you’ll need to look on Face Book or some other social network, or just hang out with the right shoes.