In Good Company

Summer 2007 

Up until this production, every part I've had has been pretty solidly boring. They've not been bad parts, mind you... far from it!  But let's take a look. Here's what I played to date:

Syndey explains to Azilee how "wrong" her association with Leonard.
So it's been one of two things: be a milquetoast or yell at Katie. Or be a milquetoast that yells at Katie. And nary any leeway to take the character in some different direction. Not at all like George, the stage carpenter from On Monday Next, who could be whatever is funniest.  There's something to be said for bit character parts; they're rarely fleshed out, so if you're lucky enough to get one you can make it really memorable and yours.

So in the Spring of 2007 I find -- Oh Joy! Oh Joy! -- I've got a bit part. It's an old obnoxious gentleman named "Veston" who's described as being horribly obnoxious. He's the sort of fellow that, if you've got one of something, he had one once, but threw it away because it was rubbish. He crashes funerals so he can belly up to the buffet. He's dislikable. BUT... later in the play he winds up finding a woman every bit as dislikable as he, and together they prove that there's someone for everyone. I know, that sounds like a big part, not a bit part, but you have to remember... there are no small parts. The best thing about a small character part is that nobody tells you how to play him. So play him big!

This is a great character!  You've got to make him believably obnoxious to the people on-stage, but you can't alienate the audience, since they've got to root for him at the end! It's tailor-made for comedy. So I died my hair grey, let my beard grow out, slouched about 4 inches shorter than normal, stuck out the belly, and got myself a distinctive cane. A lot of loud laughing and bad sight gags, and voila! Veston. I liked him, and the audience did, and there was a lot of leeway for some nice in-jokes for the cast, like using a different pet name for Nancy every performance... all of which were food. "Sweet pea", "Honey pot", "Apple Dumplin'", "Strawb'ry Shortcake"...  they were headed for a funeral buffet. We know where his head's at.  

He never yelled at Katie.

In Good Company is a funny, funny play. Some story threads:
Ooh, it sounds morbid when you put it that way!  Just take my word for it, this is a hilarious play!

One aspect of it, though, was a bit poignant. In 2004's Comin' Up a Cloud, Joe Chamberlain played the narrator, a cemetary caretaker who told the stories of the people whose graves he tended. Michael Smallwood played his apprentice, learning the stories and the importance of his own role. Shortly before production of In Good Company, Joe passed away from cancer. In Good Company returns to the same scene, this time with Michael Smallwood as the Caretaker, breaking in his own apprentice. In real life, Michael was away for college, but he took time to come back to Union to reprise his role and tend the headstone of his mentor. If you had never seen the 2004 production, you'd have never known the significance of the casting, or of the name on the headstone. But we knew. In such ways do the stories on our stage reflect the stories of our lives.  


Cast and Crew to be added