When the Sun City Community Theater planned its next performance, it relied on the creativity of a number of members to come up with the show and asked Jeanne Cantor to direct. The result is “Audition Blues,” a show about a show.
Performances are planned for 7 p.m. Feb. 8 and 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas W. Ryan Blvd.
There are 14 segments, including songs and skits. The skits were written by a number of teams that included Cantor, Elaine Ruda, Kenneth Korotkin, Joel Rosenfeld, Roger Storkamp, Joan Messineo, Pat Andrzejewski, Kim Tuel and Jeanne Ebner.
When the show they’d originally set out to do was scrubbed, Cantor stepped in as director for the last-minute change. It was that or not perform a show, she said.
“The group said if you lose one date, usually you lose your audience,” she said. “So, they didn’t want to cancel the show. The group put their heads together with suggestions of certain things they could do. … and they asked me (to direct) because I’ve been in show business for a long time. I was in New York and did summer stock. I did Off-Broadway for two years, and I was in television for 15 years.”
The TV stint saw her as Hugh Downs’ assistant on the game show “Concentration.”
The premise of “Audition Blues” is a television network competing with another network to host a giant telethon worth a lot of money. Even the fictitious benefiting organization was written as a joke: WACOS, the Walkers and Crutches Orthopedic Society.
Cantor said the hardest part was the time constraint. She worked on it five hours a day for three weeks straight. During that time, two cast members had to drop out for personal reasons, requiring rewriting the script each time.
“It was a challenge, to say the least,” she said. “Things happened. A man dropped out, and I had to put a woman in his part, so I had to rewrite that, so, that type of thing. … I got it together in three weeks.”
Rosenfeld said the show came together after kicking around a number of never-used concepts and skits. Did he worry that too many chefs might spoil the stew, so to speak?
Rosenfeld said no.
“… I had a number I thought was going to be great for the show, an Elvis number,” he said. “But they decided to leave it out, so I went, ‘OK, we’ll move on.’ … No one got annoyed that their (suggestions) weren’t taken.”
Auditions were held Nov. 1. The irony was that members were auditioning for the parts of people who were auditioning. Rehearsals began in mid-November for the 90-minute show.
Cantor said she didn’t know how well it was written until the first run-through, when audience members began to laugh out loud.
“They were hysterical,” she said of the skits. “I was judging it by their reactions. After you (read) it 15 or a dozen times, you ask yourself, ‘Is that really funny?’ But the first time they heard it, you go, ‘Yeah, it’s funny.’ “
She said rehearsals helped cast members hit their marks and perfect their timing to get the biggest laugh.
Ebner was tasked with singing “Rose of Washington Square,” a song Fanny Brice made famous.
“I’m going, ‘She learned it at age 8 and did it on a player piano.’ … I put a little sexy spin to it,” she said.
At a run-through of the show, the gags were apparent as Tuel blundered through Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and sang ‘“I’m crazy for feeling so homely.”
Not every skit was humorous. The laughs took a break when Korotkin sang “My Funny Valentine.”
As the show’s announcer, AdolphKunen proved why he had been a voiceover performer prior to retirement. Ruda stole scenes without saying a word.
Ticket are $8. For tickets, call 702-838-3849, 702-256-6646 or 702-242-0887.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.