Monday, April 15, 2013
"Ladies' Room" is a play written by Utah playwright Aden Ross. I actually performed the same character in this play twice in two years. It was produced by Girlfriends Productions at the Art Barn in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The play is set in a ladies' restroom in the Caesar's Palace Casino in Las Vegas. Characters included a lesbian blackjack dealer, a female seminary student hanging out in the ladies' room studying while waiting for a bus, a showgirl, and older woman with a gambling problem, one character I just can't bring to mind at the momen (but I know I'm going to smack myself because it will come to me right after I hit 'publish') and the cleaning woman, played by yours truly.
This character was a real challenge for me, not because I had never done that kind of work in real life (I have). The cleaning woman was supposed to come onstage singing...nearly every entrance. And not just any songs...Aretha Franklin songs. Given my lack of musical theatre history, and the fact I had been told I should do something else because I had no future in musical theatre ... I was about as intimidated as I could get. For weeks of rehearsal I refused to sing the lines, and would only recite the lyrics. Finally the patient, but exasperated director said, "I don't care what it sounds like. The character is a cleaning woman. It's not supposed to be Aretha." So I whisper-sang. There was encouraging positive response.
One of my castmates made me a tape (that dates this production, eh?) of all the various Aretha songs in the play, as well as some other goodies for inspiration. I also wound up using one of the other songs, "Jesus is Easy", by Martin Mull (of all people). I'm sure some people will take that as sacrilegious but to someone who does not feel worthy, it can speak to Jesus's forgiving nature, IMO.
A local club gave the cast and crew a year's membership each, and a lot of nights we would wind up there (especially on karaoke night). The first time I got up to sing, I needed a couple of vodkas to screw up my courage. And I sat at the table shaking afterwards, but other than that it was a success. BTO's "Takin' Care of Business" became my signature piece. Why no Aretha? That was the hostess's choice.
In the second production, the woman who had played the dealer became the seminary student. The woman who had been the older woman was then the dealer, and there were one or two new actresses to fill the vacancies.
I learned a lot in and from "The Ladies' Room".