Nannuk of the Pacific NW – A JJ And Benny Toon

Benny takes off like a shot once I hop back on the tricycle.  Jack and I let the dogs race on this stretch of neighborhood road last summer.  Benny loves it and I don’t need to pedal, just steer.  JJ tries to pull ahead but Benny is having none of that.  The tricycle picks up speed.  We screech around the corner and up the hill toward home.  Benny pulls like a champion.  JJ not so much.   I pedal the last block and a half and everyone gets their exercise on this sunny Sunday.





Oh….That Dialogue

Dorothy says “Aunt Em told me all witches burned in the fires of hell.”   Holy Crap!  We haven’t gone through this dialogue for over a week.  The other Dorothy, we have two sharing the role, forgot this line over a week ago.  I, as Locusta, can’t complete my portion of the dialogue path if Dorothy doesn’t say this line so we just skip it.

This Dorothy didn’t skip it so I must go down this yellow brick road and come up with lines not said for quite some time.  Locusta says “How horrible. Who is Aunt Em?”  And we’re on our way into a detailed discussion of civilized countries.  Oz is not, Kansas is and the actor playing the Munchkin says “What’s civilized?”  Whew!  Everyone remembered the 2 minutes we usually skip!

I begin my hunt for the laundry basket.  Today I find it stage left with the Tinman’s ax in it.  Yesterday, it contained the wolf suit.  We have no prop table because we have no regular stage manager, just one of the actors filling in when he’s not on stage.  The laundry basket is my responsibility mostly because the torn pillow needs to go on stage with the laundry basket and that torn pillow is my Aunt Em prop.  Woe to me if its not on the bed in the farmhouse.

While backstage for the funeral scene, I notice the laundry basket getting placed on stage.  I pray the pillow is on the bed.  I need to come up with a new line too.   The youngest Dorothy cannot carry the laundry basket out of the farmhouse, so they made it easy for her.  Now, my usual line does not make sense, “please go get the laundry basket out of the house” because the laundry basket full of clothes is already at the clothesline.   I quickly change it to “you will find it in the laundry basket.”

Last night, I tried to take Locusta’s 7ft staff out of the dressing room with me, only its a 6ft doorway.  I must remember to dip it down.  I managed to knock the ceiling on the stairs once again with it.  That thing is a weapon in my hands!


Locusta Arrives

Locusta Arrives

Screaming Down the Yellow Brick Road

The lion throws  his head on the stage and curses.  “I can’t hear in this!” he screams.  Our first run through of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is messier than the cyclone which blows through Kansas 15 minutes into the first act.  I don’t have an Aunt Em costume yet which I mention to the choreographer/costumer.  “Pull one of the dresses out of the laundry basket and try it on.”  I dig through the laundry basket full of used square dance dresses and find one that fits.   Aunt Em looks like she’s ready for the dance, not really appropriate but hey its better than my underwear.  I’m very familiar with the basket since I’m in charge of getting the laundry basket on stage with the torn pillow and placing Toto strategically by the door.

The next day, the day before opening, is supposedly in front of an audience, a preview.  Luckily, only a few relatives show up because its still very rough.  I bolt down the stairs to change into Aunt Em after the prologue, bolt back up stairs, pick up the laundry basket and discover I’m on the wrong side of the stage.  I stumble over a set piece behind the curtain and yelp.  its pitch dark, I can’t see a thing in my dash to other side of the stage.  After the Kansas scene, I rush back down for a quick change into Locusta, Good Witch of the North.  I can’t bolt in an evening dress so I walk quickly up the stairs.  My staff is no where to be found, one of the munchkins brings it on halfway through the scene.  After the Munchkinland scene, I walk quickly down the stairs and don my Aunt Em costume.  Aunt Em bolts back up the stairs to the vomitorium entrance to search for Dorothy and Toto.

I’m utterly exhausted.  3 costume changes in like 45 minutes.   I need a bit of costume planning, don’t I?

Opening night, I lay out all the costumes I need in order to pull them on and off quickly.  I brought a costume dress from home which looks more Aunt Em and its easier to get into.   Assistants are available to help with costume changes tonight, I round up all my props on the correct side of the stage, the lion has a new head, and opening night runs smoothly.

We did it.  Now, if only an audience will show up.


Locusta Arrives

Locusta Arrives

Stumbling Down the Yellow Brick Road

The Good Witch of the North has arrived

The Good Witch of the North has arrived

I feel like Gandalf.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, an original production opens on Friday.  I don’t have a costume yet, but I have a scepter.  I got it last night after we learned the last piece of music for the show.  The assistant director handed me this 7ft round staff with a large bulb on top.  Wow, Locusta, the Good Witch of the North, can do damage with this.  I will definitely get the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of West’s attention with this!

We have a show, as we’ve run both acts.  Not together yet, but both acts.  Except for the last 2 minutes.  They still need to write the Epilogue, which is just Baum and Dorothy.  It does not end happily like the film but the books are based on a true story which doesn’t have a happy ending either.

I’m still struggling a bit with the last couple songs but I know my lines pretty well.  I’m used to memorizing lines but not music. The musicians in the group know their music but not their lines.  So, we’re all stumbling across the stage right now, not certain of where to be or what to say or what to sing at times.

The first song is going to set the audience’s teeth on edge so let’s hope they stick around to hear the rest of the wonderful music.

Epilogue – to this blog post.  I have a few lines in the epilogue which are off stage.  Backstage is very dark so I just memorized them.   I never got a copy of the epilogue and I can’t see the lines on the copy which is back stage.  I need to bring a flashlight.  The good news is I share a nice big dressing room with Glinda.  The bad news is the costume changes are worse than I imagined.

JJ and Benny Make the Bed – A JJ And Benny Toon



A Detour Down the Yellow Brick Road – A Chorus of One

Its time for an Oz update.  We have a diva in our midst, what I call a primadonna.  Only its a guy so does that make him a Prima Don?  Our diva possesses a spectacular voice so we just gloss over his lesser qualities.  He’s a smart ass, he disappears without warning when we need him in a scene, and he won’t sing any chorus parts.

We open Oct. 31 and they just handed out the Act 2 script.  Yikes!  Luckily, I have almost no stage time in Act 2, only an off stage line or two.  This is good because I just received a major duet last week to learn.  I don’t have all my lines memorized yet much less have all my vocal numbers learned note for note.

Last night at rehearsal the director discovered he was missing minions for the Wicked Witch of the West.  Our women’s chorus consists of one mezzo soprano and even she has a few small character parts to fulfill.  Really, we have no women’s chorus.   We only have 3 men’s chorus members.  The show needs a cast of 20 and we are only 13.  Four waves of attack minions  are required and that math does not work out.  I won’t be sitting around for all of Act 2 now, I will be an attack minion.  I believe this is my first minion role which I will fill with gusto.

Will we be ready to open Oct. 31?  Its going to be a nail biter.


The Witch Arrives Soon

The Witch Arrives Soon

Benny Toon – No Eggshells Please

No Eggshells Please

No Eggshells Please

Benny Toon – The Bathroom Guard

Benny the Bathroom Guard Toon

My Killer Tomato

I walk out to water my tomatoes in their topsy turvy bags and discover my almost ripe big beautiful tomato missing.    Then I spot it.  Its been plucked by animal and gnawed on!  I waited several weeks for that tomato to get ripe.  Darn.  I pick the other nearly ripe ones hanging close to the ground, so they can ripen in safety in the house.  I gaze at the gnaw marks and wonder if its a raccoon or possum.  Both these varmits roam the neighborhood.

The next day, I bring my little video camera outside to take pictures of my perfect jalapenos.  The tomato is half gnawed at this point.  Some animal really likes that not quite ripe tomato.  I begin my video of the jalapenos closest to the tree trunk.  The jalapenos are in a multi-hole bag with strawberry plants.   As I step to the east to get video of my jalapenos hanging over the grass, an object appears in my peripheral vision near my foot.   I look down.   Its a dead rat!  I scream and do the dead rat dance, that horrified mincing step.  My tomato is rat gnawed!  All the fuss attracts JJ’s attention and he tentatively approaches for a closer look at the corpse.   I wave him away so I will not get any dead rat spiked dog kisses.


Tomato and Rat Death Scene


I gather my wits and sigh.    Jack would tell me to dump the body in the yard waste bin.  I imagine the stench and opt for burial.  Digging the hole takes twice as long as planned due to tree roots.  I gingerly pick up the stiff body with a shovel and dump it in the  hole along with the half eaten tomato.


Are tomatoes bad for rats?  The body and half eaten fruit are only 8 feet apart.  Is it a coincidence?  Could my tomato really be the killer or just the last dessert of a poisoned rat?

Cobbler with A Bite

Jack gazed longingly at the little jalapeno plants, 3 of them nestled together.  I said, “I don’t think we can grow those, its not hot enough in the summer.”  “Why don’t you try?”, he said.  You see, Jack’s brother grows really hot chili peppers in his garden.    Jack is in a competition with his brother.  I’m not, but I have garden duty.  My job is therefore to grow the chili peppers.  I tried to grow habaneros a couple years ago, but I couldn’t even get them to sprout.

I gave in.  We carried the jalapeno and strawberry plants to the cash register.  I planted a few strawberry plants in a multi hole topsy turvy grow bag a few weeks earlier and soon realized you need to fill most of the holes with plants for it to work properly.   We carefully stuck 3 more strawberry plants and the 3 jalapeno plants into the excess holes.

We watered frequently and the strawberries produced a few puny berries with a slightly chemical taste.    Summer arrived and the jalapenos ate up the warmth.   I noticed little buds and then tiny jalapenos developing.  I ran in to tell Jack we gave birth to chili peppers.   Jack asked me to wait till the little peppers darkened but I couldn’t wait to try them.  I picked a few medium sized chilies and added one to our stew.  Would they be hot?  The jalapenos you get in the grocery store can be a real let down in the spicy department.   No, the one wasn’t.  How about 2 chilis with seeds?  Jack and I like spicy so I don’t seed our chilies unless they’re habaneros.   Yes, 2 of our jalapenos added to chicken enchiladas produced a slow even heat.

The summer remains warm,  upper 70’s and 80’s.   My jalapenos are producing a bumper crop.  I picked 10 for my co-worker who likes to cook with chili’s.   My co-workers marveled at my chilies and pronounced them perfect.  I thanked them for their vote of confidence.  Who knew I could grow perfect chilies, not me, that’s for sure.

Perfect jalapenos

I noticed a recipe for tomato cobbler and I also grow tomatoes.  Not as successfully as chilies.    Plain old tomato cobbler is a bit too boring and I’ve got all these wonderful jalapenos.   I added 4.  My cobbler bit back and I liked it.  If you want to make a cobbler with a kick, just add jalapenos to your favorite tomato cobbler recipe.  Don’t be a wimp and seed your chilies either.