I have a degree in music. I play the piano and I sing and I can make a flute wish it had never been born. I know, you're thinking, "It must be so awesome to be DeNae." Well you're right; it totally is. Awesome, I mean. To be, you know, me.
The problem is, when you have a music background and can do the two things they need you to do pretty much all the time if you're a Mormon (and in this case, I'm not referring to adding shredded carrots to Jell-O or procreating) then you live in constant fear of being pegged to write, direct, and somehow fail to throttle the living daylights out of the stars of...
Now, when I was a kid, the roadshows were a gas. For one thing, we didn't have to do anything but show up, and as long as no one could trace any homicides or arsons back to the cast, we pretty much enjoyed four hours a week of unsupervised mayhem. Word would reach, oh let's choose a random performer - me, for example - that Margene Conde - a saint who has written more roadshows than Moses wrote commandments - was waiting to run through the "Choose the Right Rap", and I'd simply toss my acetylene torch into the bushes, climb down off the roof, and waltz into the cultural hall to sing my song. Then it was back to my crew for continued vandalism until it was time to rehearse the grand finale, "We All Want a Ride to Heaven 'Cuz it Sure Would be Hell to Walk", followed by doughnuts and fruit punch.
The other thing I loved about the road show was that we really took it on the road. Admittedly, this was in Salt Lake City, where there are so many LDS chapels developers have had to manipulate the fundamental laws of time and space to allow for multiple buildings to occupy the same corner. So the "road" on which we took our "show" was really more like a spin around the parking lot.
We loaded the sets and the props into the backs of umpteen pickups, and then stuffed ourselves into umpteen more cars (all driven by saintly souls whom I barely even noticed were behind the wheel), pointed the vehicles in the direction of the next building, and fifteen seconds later, we reversed the entire process. It was a kick.
I didn't really pay much attention to what it was like to be the directors. We all loved Kevin and Margene, and we just took it for granted that they did the roadshow every year for four straight decades because, I don't know, it was programmed into their DNA or something. Like, if they ever took a year off, they'd start to fade like Marty's photo in "Back to the Future" until eventually they just wouldn't be "them" any more.
You gotta love the social awareness of 14-year olds.
Years later, I found myself on the "Margene" side of the equation, writing and directing a show peopled with performers of all ages and varying degrees of commitment and talent. I look back on those years as the times I came closest to becoming a Druid. I wasn't sure what Druids did besides sit around making small talk with gigantic obsidian faces, but that was enough of a draw if it meant cutting me loose from these knuckleheads.
The worst part was the music. Generally, the idea was to take a show tune or a folk ditty and write new lyrics to support the plot line and act as a substitute for dialogue. Roadshow lyricism reached rock bottom one year when my brilliantly talented friend Ken was forced to write the words - and I'm not making this up - "It's a hard knock life. For storks."
Opening night found Ken locked in a broom closet drinking NyQuil through a bendy straw and bewailing the terminal loss of his professional credibility. He was never quite the same after that.