Join the merry dancing

Posted by Bruce Ham on October 25, 2013 

Bruce Waltz

So this is the third year the girls and I have tried out for Ira David Wood's A Christmas Carol. It's a spoof on Dickens complete with musical vignettes; plays to around 30,000 people each December. This is the 39th anniversary of this hilarious but meaningful production.

This would be the third year that I nearly vomited as I sang my one minute solo to audition. This would be the third year that one of my kids nearly had a breakdown on the way to the theater. Interestingly, this would be the third year we got in! Oh, and Uncle Jesse, my brother-in-law, is joining us for the 2013 season.

All three of my girls have very good voices. All three can dance. There is but one in the family who is deficient in these two areas: me.

Now I can carry a tune, but I won't likely be one of the 30 on stage who are selected to have a personal mic stuck to their forehead. But who gives a hang? I understand the tape they attach it with leaves a rash on your skin. Plus, there are hanging mics all over stage picking up my tenor sort of like an FBI bug.

I was sad to learn that every man in the triangle area of North Carolina who can march to a beat was busy for the month of December. I discovered this fact when I was cast as a dancer for the Act II Fezziwig Broadway dance number. Usually in this scene I'm positioned on a bridge and told to sing while tossing around an empty pewter beer mug, which I do quite well. I guess through the years they have been overwhelmed by my grace on stage.

And the worst part of it? DJ is my dance partner.

The first night I felt like I was on Dancing with the Stars. She was the instructor. And she was mean!

"Daad. I told you to stiffen your arms. I should be able to hit your hand without you moving (and then, she hauled off and knocked the hell out of my open palm)."

"Ouch."

"Arms? At this point I'd just like to be moving in the same general direction as the others on the stage! If everyone else is going right, I'd like to as well."

"Move your legs faster!" "You've got to remember this part!" Is there cement in your shoes?" "Move, dad, move!" "Ahh. How did I end up with you?"

At one point the men have to run across the stage and hoist ourselves up into the air - arms straight up, both legs off the floor, one behind the other. Immediately after, we rush back across the stage and repeat the Lords a Leaping.

The first night I looked like Donald Duck impersonating Mikhail Baryshnikov.

In another segment, the guys have to fake left, spin out in the opposite direction into a 360 (arms in the air), fake right and spin back around to the left. When I get through I feel like I've been on the Tilt a Whirl. But that's not all. We then have to jump up, legs and arms outstretched like a big X as if we were performing at the German beer joint in Busch Gardens.

My daughter keeps stressing the small things, "Dad, turn your palms in," she firmly reminds as she yanks my outstretched hands.

"Why do they need to turn in like that? People don't walk around with their palms in the air turned inward. It's not natural. Are you planning to read them and tell me my fortune?"

The other night I had a nightmare. We were all on stage, and I was dancing my heart out, but the lyrics to the song had changed. Instead of "Join the merry dancing, in the fire light," the cast belted out, "Did that dude fall off the stage, into the orchestra pit..."

I awoke as I was falling, the tuba right below me.

The next day I told DJ she had to give me a break. We've only practiced twice and she's expecting Gene Kelly. She's been taking dance for 14 years, of course it's easy for her. I'm the oldest person in the number, by about two decades, and I've never had a structured dance lesson in my life! I asked her if she'd thought she could come to the Y and run an effective board meeting for the next day. I think not!

Don't let this keep you from the play. As DJ reminded me, it's only a 2 minute song. Besides, I will learn it or die trying. I love a good challenge.

Purchase Bruce's Book: Laughter, Tears and Braids

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