Flower Drum Song was an unprecedented opportunity for Park Square Theatre to put a community of 17 Asian American theatre artists on our stage. If you were in the house for the closing performance, then you had the rare chance to see two additional community members take a turn on the stage during the Grant Avenue California USA musical number. John Harris made his Park Square “debut” as a camera wielding tourist and Jim Lewis made his second on stage appearance as a fellow tourist in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Jim’s “debut” was two years ago in a performance Sherlock Holmes and The Ice Palace Murders).
So how did these two get to join the company for a performance?
At our April gala last year, we offered the chance for a walk on role (complete with rehearsal and costume fitting), 10 tickets for your fan club, $150 toward your own “cast party” at the St. Paul Grill, and photos with the company for your memory book or Facebook Timeline. John, a longtime donor and subscriber and Jim, an enthusiastic member of our Mystery Writers Producers’ Club of donors, were locked in a bidding war, so we sold it twice, adding $3,500 to our fund to subsidize student matinee tickets.
It was wonderful to hear “Team John” and “Team Jim” cheer for their family actor before the show started and at the curtain call.
As I “wrangled” them backstage before making our way to the stage for their big moment, I watched them observe the cast prepping and during the first act – doing vocal exercises in the dressing room in between songs, constant stretching, taking part in the closing day potluck still on the long table, and the ensemble running back and forth to change into their endless costumes. Finding somewhere to stand backstage amid the constant flow of traffic, the props and costumes waiting for quick offstage changes was a delightful challenge!
Needless to say, the Flower Drum Song cast was amazingly warm and welcoming to the “two old white guys” along for the time of their lives. Pogi Sumangil took responsibility for getting them through the curtain in time to the music and Megan Kreidler was their lead through the choreography to get them to their marks. “Just follow me,” she kept smiling!
Once off on the other side of the stage (dodging ladders and quick entrances in the tight squeeze we have next to the rope and pulley rigging system), they looked for me to guide them through the Hamm Building to their seats to enjoy the rest of the show. They were fêted at intermission with a private champagne toast with their “teams” of fans and the whole cast indicated them in their special spotlight for their final bow.
If you (yes you) would like to make your Park Square debut next season, there are two options: bring your headshot and resume to our general auditions over the next two weekends, or join us on April 24 for our Havana Nights Gala where we’ll once again auction off the chance of a lifetime to appear in one of next season’s performances. We’re “sweetening the deal” this year by adding the chance to be at the designer’s presentation and first read through of “your” show with the cast so you can meet them ahead of time. You’ll also get to join us for the “designer’s run through” in the rehearsal hall to see who the show is coming together before it heads over to the stage.
So get your bidding budget set. There’s nothing like some gentle “on the job training” to get a taste of the actor’s life and to see a production from literally all sides!
C. Michael-jon Pease is Executive Director of Park Square Theatre