Actress For A Day

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Some actors might be worried about by being upstaged by a giant turkey on a sled.

Not me. I welcomed the thought of the audience being distracted by said poultry.

I played the part of the Poulterer, delivering two lines in Indiana Repertory Theatre's staging of A Christmas Carol on Sunday.  

Nora Spitznogle stands costumed in full, Christmas Carol regalia for her guest role in the IRT holiday classic. - NORA SPITZNOGLE
  • Nora Spitznogle
  • Nora Spitznogle stands costumed in full, Christmas Carol regalia for her guest role in the IRT holiday classic.

I was a guest actor in Tom Haas's splendid adaptation of Charles Dickens' holiday tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his pinched heart. I won the on-stage experience in at the silent auction during IRT's Celebrity Radio Show last February.

In other words, I bought my way on stage. I admit it.

My experience started earlier in the week when I arrived for my fitting in the costume shop. I'd already sent them my measurements (a humbling experience) and Guy Clark and his talented team had selected a few dresses. Everything, including the bloomers, fit. They measured my head (22" for those keeping score) for a bonnet, and I was costumed.    

Sunday I arrived at the theater early so I could rehearse. Production folks were busy corralling the faux snow on stage with rakes. Stage Manager, Nathan Garrison, walked me through my part and gathered the crew so I could practice my lines while pulling the sled. I was nervous. What if I tripped over the turkey or fell off the stage or forgot how to say "poulterer?" And was I saying it right in the first place?

Then it was time to get dressed. I took great delight (and several photos) that my name was on the door and on each part of my costume!

I giggled when I heard the 15-minute stage call announcing to the cast that I would be joining them. The child actors gave me pep talks in the green room.

Suddenly it was time to go to the stage. The show started and I was rooted to my spot in the wings. When I sat on my assigned stool, one of the legs was on a different surface and my voluminous costume and I tipped sideways and knocked over a sign. Noisily.

It didn't seem to matter. Everyone had a role, and my flailing didn't faze anyone.  

I loved my bird's-eye view of the magic on and off stage. The crew moved props and people with precision. Ropes were pulled to make it snow, and the lighting folks were spot-on.

And then it was my turn!

The turkey, sled and I followed one of the cute-as-the-dickens child actors out to the stage, and it was walking into a warm hug. I could feel the support and realized that there was nothing that I could screw up that they couldn't cover up without missing a beat.

My time on stage was a blur, but I think I did OK. There was the good kind of laugher from the audience, and I didn't trip on the dress and my glasses didn't fly off my head like they did in rehearsal.

I loved every second of my day at the IRT, but I don't think we can call this my stage debut. I fully intend to sit on the other side of the curtain from now on, appreciating everything that happens out of sight.

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