Claudine Jones

april 2006

One-Woman World

It's a blogging universe, even off the internet, apparently; I was going to write about the corrosive effect of going around the audition circuit and about needing the instrument to stay polished: lo & behold I log onto a page somewhere and someone has beaten me to it. I switch gears and then open up the weekly rag and there's my other idea. Well, never mind: Romeo & Juliet is not the only tragic love story ever written and I can bloody well write my version of anything I choose. 

I wonder how many one-♀ vs. one-♂ shows there are, not counting shows that are written by someone other than the performer. Do the numbers break down the same way comedienne vs comedian does?  I think there are way more than in that field; for every Fanny Brice there are a bunch of George Burnses and Uncle Milties. Have to do some research into that to get hard numbers.  Don't think it's quite as bad as vs. trumpet players—can you think of a single famous trumpeter?  I asked once after a concert, when we were mingling with the all ♀ensemble at the reception and the player to whom I made my query said, 'Oh, look! Isn't it a lovely day!' and since it was 11 P.M., I dropped the subject.

Recently I was at an audition and saw V_____ sitting in the theater looking particularly glum and disheveled—not usually a great idea at an audition, I mean, blue jeans aside, one makes an attempt in most cases—but she was slumped down with the hood of her sweatshirt pulled around her face. A bit puffy, too, like 'poor me I've been battered about' sort of.  I didn't get a chance either to do the air-kiss with her or gossip about her with anyone else I knew there that also knows her, so…who knows? As it happens neither one of us was cast in that piece. 

The incident reminds me of one further back in time a bit, say about eight or ten years ago. At that juncture I often ran into V_____ in my neighborhood since her day job was quite local.  She was kind enough to inquire how things were going with me showbiz-wise and I would reciprocate. At some point though, both she and I were up for the same role in a musical and I was cast and she wasn't and she also was not apparently happy about it at all, in a very 'I really wanted that part' sort of way.  What could I say?  If the show, sorry, shoe was on the other foot, I would at least try to stay out of her way and not show how much I wanted to smash her ugly cow face in.

Still friends, though, so a year later I found out that she was doing a theater benefit and I certainly wanted to be supportive—pretty much always try to go to a fellow actor's shows—and she was heavily promoting it, as well she should if it was a benefit.  I remember I had to talk my partner into going since he's not a great fan of musical revues, but it was a sunny day and a short matinee. We'd be home in time for an afternoon nap.

We arrived and got comfy, saw that there was a grand piano onstage and a few festoony decorations.  Pianist was seated, house lights went down and V_____ entered. She looked good, if a bit bug-eyed with energy and smiled a greeting on the audience which was very welcoming.   She began a speech, which seemed like the thing to do for the occasion—treasure of a building, mustn't let it deteriorate, etc., etc.—but it began to break down somewhere in the middle and became a recitation of the number of times she had been robbed of parts that were due her (no mention of course made of the feeling on the other actor's part that perhaps she felt the part was due her.), and how this made her furious and decimated.

The long and not so short of it was that she had finally made up her mind that if the casting wasn't to come to her, she would do the casting.  Hence her one-♀ show, consisting of everything she wanted to do, because no one was telling her she couldn't. So there! She then approached the ebony Grand and gave a nod to the fellow there waiting.  She sang for about an hour, I think.  It was a very long hour.  Then she announced an intermission.  In the dark I froze. With the house lights swiftly coming up, I stared at my lap, unable to look at my partner for fear of the expression on his face. 

We most often take the air at the entr'acte if we are able and it isn't raining. Somehow we made it out on to the sidewalk.  The stroll was brief and we didn't say much.  What caused us to re-enter the theater has been lost to my memory; we could have leapt into our car, but no, back we were in our seats and the lights going down again, everyone around us with Disney-like animated faces, hands clapping.  This place really appreciates donors of money, time, expertise in tax code, running a vacuum cleaner—they appreciate anything.

The next 40 minutes or so are almost all blessedly erased from my brain's data banks; I actually remember only one number from the entire show and that's the aria 'What a Movie!' from 'Trouble in Tahiti' during which she ran up and down the aisle.  I think that was the end of the first half actually—I remember thinking it was a good way to end the show.  No, as we found out shortly after, that was not to be.  Show tunes were a-comin', naptime was long gone and dinner was looking so tempting.  My butt was asleep and I was starting to feel almost tearful, like a two year old on a car trip, when she left the stage.  The pianist vamped, the audience murmured, I was going to get up and scream, but suddenly she reappeared, this time (to my horror) stripped down to black tights, a sequined jacket and (I swear by the Almighty) a Red White & Blue glitter-covered top hat, at which point she did her grand finale, with tap.

I know I said hi to her on the way out, but how I did it with a straight face—well, it's called acting.


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©2006 Claudine Jones
©2006 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades. With her co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs for local venues. As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his latest render.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives




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