"Dog Day Afternoon"
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
19 September 2005
If they were handing out "the show must go on" awards, I would nominate Lou Parell in a minute.
Tonight I went to review a revue (like that?) called "Best of Broadway." Actually, the name of this show, now in its 33rd year, is a bit of a misnomer since they usually do music from shows I've never heard of, which I suspect may not quite be the "best" of Broadway, with featured musicals such as "The Card," "Zoot Suit," and "Return to the Forbidden Planet" (all blockbusters, I'm sure)
But it has a cast of hundreds (200+ ranging in age from 5 to old guys like me), has incredible energy, and is a real feel-good show.
The show is put on in the auditorium of Luther Burbank School in Sacramento, a huge arena, usually filled with people carrying flowers for someone in the cast. I suspect the audience is primarily moms and dads and sisters, cousins and aunts of the folks in the cast.
But it's a fund raiser and they bring in lots of money for local charities. The group is quite dedicated, they work on this show all year, and the end result is a delight.
We had made it through Act 1, which ended with half the cast in the aisles of the theatre getting the audience to clap. And then, after an intermission, Act 2 started with a rousing number from Grand Hotel and a section called "Broadway's Latin Suite."
The mood changed. The next set of songs was from a show called Napoleon (which I'd never heard of). Lou Parell was standing there, in a pool of light, dressed as Napoleon, and singing "The Dream Within," a very dramatic song, when suddenly lights started flashing all over the hall and a loud noise kept beeping.
Parell kept on singing while the audience began to look around, wondering what was up. Given the nature of this revue, it could have been part of the show, but it was going on far too long. I heard people muttering about it being a fire alarm and suddenly people were getting up and leaving the theatre.
Parell kept singing.
Finally the house lights came up and the ushers came down the aisle to tell us all that we had to leave.
Parell kept singing.
We all gathered outside on the sidewalk and from inside, I could hear Parell still singing. He was going to finish his song even if he had to go up in flames to do it!
Members of the cast came out onto the sidewalk, in costume, to yell at the audience "DON'T GO...THERE WILL BE MORE!"
I heard someone wearing a name badge saying that either one of the children in the cast had pulled the fire alarm in the bathroom, or the alarm had reacted to the stage smoke (though since there was almost none that I could detect, I suspect the bathroom story was more accurate).
Unfortunately, only the fire department could turn off the alarm, so we all stood around shivering outside, while Parell finished his song inside.
Twenty minutes and three fire engines later, the alarm was off and we were allowed back into the theatre. By this time at least a quarter of the audience had gone home, sure that the show was over. (In fairness, these seemed to be mostly the grandmotherly types who looked like, having already seen their little darlings in the first act finale, they were happy to have an excuse to leave early!)
So if anybody is handing out "the show must go on" awards, I want to be the first to nominate Lou Parell, for extreme coolness under...uh...fire.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(Good rule of thumb: always travel with a camera!!)