A Couple of Characters
January 28, 2021
As the pandemic wears on, we are finally bored enough to tackle a wide variety of overdue tasks. Home repair? Deep cleaning? I think not! Obviously, the Number One Seyfried priority is…..
Going through the gaggle of old photos from our dinner theatre days! Yes, some might argue that painting the family room and re-surfacing the driveway take precedence, but honestly? I don’t care! They’re my memories and I’ll sort if I want to!!
Steve and I graced the stages of many suppertime extravaganzas for several years in the late 1970s (throughout the Southeast), and again for a bit after we settled in Philly in 1980. Going through the glossy photos reminded me that we were once really skinny (thanks not to dieting but to our ridiculously small grocery budget). Perusing the yellowed newspaper clippings, it became clear that these productions did not make any local theatre critic’s “Best Of…” list. Indeed, our shows tended to inspire headlines such as “Woody Allen’s Fun Comedy Goes Awry at Bartke’s Theatre” and “Laugh…But Not With My Daughter."
The raves were even more embarrassing than the pans, though, because of the reporters’ ineptitude. One fellow used to comment on the various buffet line items right along with his critique: “Elise Cunningham was sweet as the ingenue--and so was the strawberry shortcake I enjoyed before the curtain!” Amazingly, these kudos did nothing for my acting career.
But we had a lot of fun, Stevo and I. Back in those days, we were often cast as father and daughter (even then Steve had an “older guy” look, though he had to use gobs of white shoe polish to get his hair right). Our one and only stint as young lovers took place at Birmingham, Alabama’s Celebrity Dinner Theatre and Bowling Alley (you read that correctly), when we starred in Cactus Flower. I must say I much preferred those stage smooches, to those with the motley assortment of my other leading men--even though the romantic spell was often broken by the sound of bowling balls hurtling toward pins on the other side of the theatre wall.
During that time, we encountered some fascinating folks (and one animal): an actress who made most of her living performing on cruise ships-and whose actual first name was Oceana! Eccentric, hard-drinking, cigar chomping director Mel Glass (a real Zero Mostel type). And then there was Doodles, the dog, who appeared in the dreadful Love is a Time of Day in Hurricane, West Virginia. Doodles was both a scene stealer and a nasty biter--and clearly got the job only because his owner was the producer.
We may have lived in crummy rooms above theaters, and smuggled dinner rolls upstairs for our breakfast, but nostalgia bathes it all in a rosy glow.
Then, as now, hubby and I were a couple of characters. We feel pretty lucky to be cast in the Show of Life together (Comedy? Tragedy? Both!) and hope our run extends for many years to come.