Reminiscing with Jack Deuel

It’s mid-November 1969 and on the Sidney High School stage, Tri-Town Theatre’s production of “The Music Man” is playing to a large Saturday night audience.  Otis Atkins, the music director is conducting a full orchestra and stage director Jack Deuel is watching from the back of the auditorium.  The Leading Lady, Mary Jane Gelder then Fischer, plays Marian the librarian.  Marian’s front porch setting is on a large wheeled platform on the downstage left apron of the stage in the care of a new stage hand who has replaced the regular hand called to emergency duty at the hospital down the street.

Mary Jane is entering from backstage to sing her Act II solo; “My White Knight” when to both directors’ horrified gaze Marion’s front porch begins a slow but relentless journey to its old and obsolete marks down center, moving into its old position like an ocean cruiser coming into port.  The porch is now squarely between Marion and the orchestra and audience.  Mr. Atkins’s face is a study in astonishment as he finds himself conducting not a singer but a porch.  Marion the librarian was upstaged by her own front porch.

Mary Jane saved the number by crossing around her porch to a new position in front, allowing us to hear “My White Knight” in its accustomed place in the plot.  After the performance Mary Jane was quite properly congratulated on her common and nobody in the show thinks the audience was any the wiser.

Story by Jack Deuel

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