There was a lot to laugh about Sunday night during our dinner and read-through of “The Captain of the Chocolate Cake.”
First, there were the silly voices Kevin Anderson used to record the pirate song. For some reason, the Tooth Fairy came out sounding like Oscar the Grouch with amped-up attitude.
Second, Midnight the horse reared her mangy head. We thought the beloved character had been shipped off to the glue factory, cut like so many other characters in our last script trim, but to our surprise she still whinnied a line on Page 32.
But most of all, it was the gender-bending pronouns that caused giggles throughout the evening. You see, when the script was written, the main character was envisioned as a little boy. It became obvious that we needed a gender-neutral name so that a child actor could be easily subbed into the spot. Hence, the name “Sam.” But Sunday, we were lucky enough to include Hazel Black in the read-through. The Stivers School for the Arts student can sing, dance and jump into character. In her first read-through of the script, she was terrific — energy and attitude worthy of heroes found in the most fierce of battles. “Sam” she is, but “she” is definitely not a “he.”
So, on Page 1: “He’s the wrong one.”
“He can’t be. We are certain.”
More giggles. Followed by some on-the-fly pronoun swaps, some successful, some not. For those new to the script — Mally and Taylor and Molly and Hazel — it led to some confusing dialogue, as pronouns shifted and dead sisters talked and imaginary creatures came to life, with only two of those being intentional. But everyone played along, and by the end, we knew we had a winner — both in Hazel and in the script.
Thanks to Tristan Cupp and Gary Thompson of Zoot Theatre Company for joining in and offering their insights; to Chris Shea for his exquisite pirate (his voice conveys velvet jacket, not tattered jolly roger); to our Wright State talent new and old Mally Reber, Taylor Ramos and Molly Murphy Gilbert; to Dennis Dugan for Skyping in (sorry good food doesn’t digitize as easily as video); and to the rest of the partners who envisioned this magical production, including Beth Wright and Katrina Kittle.
It was truly a feast — for the stomach and for the artist in us all. What’s next? More script revisions (pronoun swaps on the top of the list), translating dialogue into dance, puppets (puppets!) and more good food. We’re planning on workshopping the entire production this summer — stay tuned!