It was last Friday, a half hour into the show and, wearing my father’s yellow and black plaid jacket (circa 1975)—with a pink shirt and mustard-colored bowtie, no less—-I walk on stage.  As Mr. Pinky, owner of a fat lady’s shop, I seek hefty women.
“54 Double D?” I ask the lead. (We are downstage, center). “Triple E!” she exclaims.
“Oh Mama” I exalt in my best Frank Costanza,” I’ve hit the motherload!”
The house laughs as I scoot off, returning only at curtain. I’ll do it—that single minute—in ten performances over three weeks. It is the culmination of 20 three-hour rehearsals and fulfill each time.
“Hairspray” is simply the best musical production I’ve ever been in.

I was rusting on a bench in the South Euclid majors. It was 1960, and at ten, I’d “made it” a year ahead of most pals. To be sure, as I sat and watched, my buddies were busy ripping covers off balls in the minors. The fact that I was hitless only added to my angst.
“Would you rather be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?” asked my Dad.
The White Sox, (for whom I batted once per game and got two innings in the field), were running away from the pack. En route to a 15-3 season and a World Series sweep over Lyndhurst’s champ, they were a team loaded with talent. Many, years later, would find their names spread across the local sport page. Even if I wasn’t already plagued with insecurity, this was an awe-inspiring group, a pre-pubescent Murderer’s Row.
Restless as I was though, I savored every moment. I knew, as we skated through that season, that I this was something special—that those cowboys could really play! Indeed, decades later, names like Capretta, Chambers and Lucia glisten in my memory and my little brown trophy—cheap old plastic that it is—confirms that way back when, I, Bruce Bogart, was, in that magical summer, at that moment in time, “a part of”.

I love everything about this show we’re doing. I love the fact that, unlike “How To Succeed…’ there’s no pressure on me. It’s a musical, laden with talent. No shtick here. The singers sing; the dancers dance; and me? I stay out of the way.
The cast, to be sure, is a “Who’s Who” of east-side amateurs. Stars aside, the chorus itself is is replete with marquee names. Standing in the wings, I marvel daily as they blow me away.
I am a role-player here…with a role. It’s garbage time—this comic relief. Necessary evil to a script? Perhaps. Balance? Maybe.
I don’t care. I swear I don’t.
There will be other shows—other comedies and other fat slob roles to fit in…to star in. There’ll be other times, other venues to get my laughs. And more than sixty seconds worth.
Today, though, I’m in the true big leagues. I’m a bench coach, like an aging Minnie Minoso. But I’m here…in the wings: a little fish in not only a big pond, but a golden one.
And I’m “a part of”.

3 Responses to “ON GOLDEN POND”

  1. ABL says:

    We are coming tomorrow night… Totally looking forward to it.

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