in every community theater production, there is the fantasy: that the nondescript man in row three will turn out to be a new york producer who has found himself with nothing to do for an evening as he ambles across the country on some business errand. he is enchanted by the plumber’s rendition of henry higgins if they’re doing my fair lady. or he’s smitten with how the head of the girl scout troop sinks her teeth into the “who’s afraid of virginia woolf”. a note is sent backstage during intermission: would said plumber or said girl scout troop leader consent to be part of his new production, an avant garde rendering of music man to be premiered at carnegie hall?
no one ever says it. everybody in community theater says they’re doing it just for fun. but truly, everybody would like to be discovered. i would. damnit, i’m still not sure why an agent from the ford modeling agency hasn’t approached me as i wend my way through the produce section of lakeside foods.
well, i’m here to tell you that the whole “discovered while doing community theater” thing happened to eastman when he was doing lost in yonkers for winnetka’s community theater. and the new york (well, okay, pittsburgh) producer was ken kaissar. ken was bringing the play “ritual of faith” to chicago and when he saw eastman onstage, he wanted him.
the play may have been a bit of a, well, ahem, critical and commercial failure, but eastman loved it because he got to go downtown every evening, stay up late, hang out with other actors and drink slurpees every intermission. can’t beat that when you’re nine.
ken went on to other shows and right now is doing his own play “the man stanley” at the walnut street theater in philadelphia. it opens june 14 and is part of a partnership called “two guys making theater”. you can take a look at http://www.twoguysmakingtheatre.com/TwoGuysMakingTheatre/Welcome.html
facebook has allowed us to keep up a bit but it was the first time ken and i had seen each other since the play closed. we had lunch at ted’s montana grill in philadelphia’s theater district! oddly, nobody stopped me on the street and said “hey, are you signed with a modeling agency????”
tomorrow, an account of the one meeting i feared the most on this eastern seaboard trip!
on friday, i’ll be seeing the drowsy chaperone, a piece of community theater that is going to surely produce some great stars–it’s produced by my friend nancy flaster!