The show lasted 3 1/2 hours and seemed like one. At intermission half way through, it felt like the show had just started. Agnes, who is most often backstage in a sweat making sure the people next to go on are in place, finding them, seeing to this and that. This year she sat out in the audience with Ernest except when they had parts on the stage. This year everything backstage worked smoothly with Dotty Dorsett and Clint Bedsaul seeing to arrangement of mics, getting people in place for the curtains to open soon after they close. There was never a dead moment. The audience's attention never wavered from the stage. And, interestingly, the people putting on skits and making music were fully aware of connecting with the audience.
Hillbilly Wes, Wes Brinegar who works in the Post Office, has been the comic mc the last several years and by now has created a stage persona that is the glue that holds everything together. I was glad to see Agnes relaxed this time, able to see her creation start to finish instead of being in a Mammy Yokum spin the whole time making it work that way. She has a good crew that is fairly well experienced with performing in whatever way they choose. Like Jason Parlier did a karaoke of I think it was a Jerry Reed song, she got the goldmine, I got the shaft. Jason did the singing, and did it well. I'd seen Ricky Nelson in concert in highschool years, probably 1959, and he brought that concert back. His approach to singing with the guitar was so reminiscent of Ricky Nelson, it got to where I was seeing Ricky Nelson like when Kermit Pruitt was lip-syncing George Jones, there came a time when Kermit became George Jones, soon after he started.
My role was to pull the curtain ropes. Dotty Dorsett, who was the backstage director, gave me signals from the other side of the curtain for opening and closing. I mostly knew automatically, but there were so many exceptions and she gave perfect directions with hand signals. One time I got a close signal from her, then another source said, No--open them. Then another said, Close them. I felt like a computer told to do 3 different things at the same time and freezes. I didn't know what to do. All 3 directions came inside 3 seconds. I looked at Dotty and she signaled close them urgently. Clint Bedsaul was Dotty's assistant, helping with mics and wires and monitors and helping bands get their things together before the curtain opens. He was major contributing factor to how backstage pandemonium was shaped into order.
Mine was the best place in the house. I could see what was happening onstage through the space between the wall and the curtain, about half a foot, all of what's going on backstage, saw the audience quite a bit. I saw the whole show in all its dimensions. Mostly during music I'd go out in front, take an empty seat on the front row, get a few pictures and return to my post. Last night during practice I took the moment to make a video of Gary Joines playing fiddle. I had to wait til the end of the song to stop the camera. At the same time I'm to be at the rope pulling the curtain shut. As soon as the music stopped I ran around to the ropes and there was Dotty wondering where I was, about the pull the rope herself. This is a good measure of how well Dotty oversaw everything. She didn't know I was making the video and had no idea where I was. I'm glad the video got made practice night, because I never had a moment past the end of a tune and couldn't get in place soon enough for the beginning.
The video can be found on YouTube titled: FAREWELL WALTZ / RAGGEDY ANN. It can be found by writing any of the musicians' names in the Search box. They are Gary Joines, Ernest Joines, Eddie Bakeberg and Lynn Worth. Any of those names will pull it up. A good fortune feature of the video is Gary and Bobbi Parlier were flatfooting back and forth on the stage while the music was playing. As I had the frame for the camera set on the musicians, the dancers in the foreground were visible from shoulder to knee, dancing like crazy. It added a great deal to the music. At first I thought about opening the frame to get them full length, but the way they were drifting back and forth in front of the band seemed to work just right, so I kept the camera's frame on the band and let them move in motion to the music back and forth.
Agnes chose me to play Ernest T Bass of the Andy Griffith Show after a musical skit of Jean Osborne playing Charlene, Andy's girlfriend, where she sang Salty Dog. I don't know that I'd ever heard Jean sing before, and she's a good singer. The band called themselves the Darlings. When Charlene finished singing, Ernest T, "It's me, Ernest T," runs out on the stage begging Charlene to marry him and not Andy. It was a back and forth mayhem, neither of us sticking to what we had talked about doing and saying. It all went away and we just did our back and forth game, whatever happened.
When it ended, Hillbilly Wes made some remark. I turned around, took a pair of black socks rolled up tight into a ball out of my pocket, held it up and said, "I'll rock you boy!" The audience actually let out a collective gasp. I threw it at him. It hit him in the chest and he caught it. Then he started jerking around in spasms. I said, "I didn't mean to hit his pacemaker." There were some hesitant laughs, because it looked like that might have happened. It was totally spontaneous. When it was over, it wasn't like I'd done anything. I'd fallen into a place where it wasn't me any more. I couldn't look at the audience, just acted a fool whatever happened and then it was over. I didn't feel like I'd done anything, back in myself.