A friend took me to an operetta a while back. We had decent seats and though the roster wasn't from the A-list, I was ready for some good voices. I wasn't disappointed. In fact I inadvertently got more entertainment than I had expected thanks to an odd blocking maneuver and a costume malfunction.
The main character for this production had to wear full period dress with corset, bustle and train. In order to navigate the stage, she needed to make sure that she did not step on her train when she turned so she would execute a kind of rearward karate kick to billow the fabric away from her and then step-out with the same foot to make the turn. Her execution was effective but, umm, less than graceful. Jarring, really. She would float, float, float over the stage and then, out of nowhere, karate-kick-back-and-step-out. It was like she was dancing ballet with a football maneuver thrown in, or perhaps trying to dislodge the bite of a small dog that had hold of her ankle
This made me laugh.
But, I worked to keep it to myself out of respect for the effort.
Yes, I worked very hard,
Later in the show, this character sat sideways to the audience while her ladies in waiting affixed a large(I mean lampshade-sized) tiara on her head. It was impressive on a "Miss Saigon" scale, with a pearl the size of a plumb-bob hanging down in the middle of the forehead. Or, at least I think it was supposed to be in the middle of the forehead. I became suspicious of what I was about to see as the ladies fussed oddly with the tiara. From my view of her left side, things didn't look quite balanced…
And I became afraid. So very afraid.
My eyes opened wide as the character stood. I took a deep breath. Then she did it. She killed me. She did her karate-kick-step-out, turned to face the audience and I completely fell apart. The tiara was listing dangerously to the right, almost over her eye, the pearl nowhere near centre. She looked like a Disney character who had downed several vodka shots after a long day, mouse ears askew, or perhaps Foster Brooks in drag.
I quickly bowed my head and covered my eyes. I snorted. I bit my lip. I couldn't breathe and I could not stop laughing. Air was going in, shooting out, and wanting desperately to make sound. Big sound. I fought and fought and after several minutes made myself focus on the flute player's music score down in the orchestra pit. But my eyes kept filling with tears and my shoulders kept convulsing through the rest of the evening as if I was sitting on a bus routed over a rutted country road.
I felt absolutely horrible. I know the performers were doing their best. I know that if they saw me, which I would imagine they did, that they hated me. But I will never forget that show. It brought tears to my eyes even writing this. I was completely entertained.
And my friend was no help. She was laughing just as hard. I didn't stand a chance. Really.