Mar 14, 2008

Acting the Fool: The Annual REAL Christian Theater Dinner Show

Gumshoe extraordinaire, private eye Tommy Jo Larmer as played by yours truly.
The Cast of The Case of the Kiss Kiss Diamond, this year's REAL Christian Theater dinner show. Believe it or not there is only one male in this picture-and that's me.

For the second year in a row, I've had the good luck to be able to act the fool in our annual REAL Christian Theater dinner show fundraiser. Last year, some may recall Grant was laid low with the flu on the weekend of our performance and I ended up stepping in for him to play the role of egomaniacal ex-football hero Dickie Morgan. This year I had the buffoon's role from the get-go, the part of Tommy Jo Larmer, a self-styled "hotshot" private eye on the trail of the stolen Kiss Kiss diamond in our comedy production, The Case of the Kiss Kiss Diamond.

This was another audience-interactive mystery play with a thin script and lots of silly laughs--quite a change from our usual purposeful fare. This production was all about having fun and raising funds to help us continue our primary reason for existence--taking the message of God's love all around the islands of Micronesia.

Veronyka Perez, our kindergarten teacher from Miami and a co-director with the team did a great job of directing the play and bringing out the best in all of us.

We faced a number of challenges with this play, but thanks to Vero's creativity and the adventuresome spirit of the kids on our team we were able to overcome them all. First, we have a small team this year and we didn't have enough actors for all the roles. Fortunately, we directors acted as well and we even got one of our REAL alumni to join us for this production, acting as one of the lawyers. Another challenge was that the script called for three couples, and our team consists of all girls (except for me and our sound tech). This problem was solved by having three of our gutsiest actors portray men. It's tough for anyone, much less a middle-school-aged girl, to play across gender lines but these girls who I will refer to by their stage names, "Carman", "Joey", & "Tony", did an excellent job. They embraced their masculine roles with zest wearing the clothes, affecting the mannerisms, and even lowering their voices. Their male imitations were spot-on and hilarious to watch.
This mannish looking young lady is president of her 8th grade class, a straight A student, and a talented actress. Doesn't she look great?

As for my role, I had so much fun. I like playing these kinds of over-the-top silly roles because I like making people laugh, and frankly it's fun to be able to just let go and act like a fool without actually having to feel like a fool. For this role, the person I modeled my performance after was one of the comedy greats, Don Knotts. I tried to add that self-important whine, the high-strung hyperactivity, the difficulty getting the gun out of it's holster, and the general cluelessness about my own clulessness that Don Knotts made famous with his character "Barney Fife" on The Andy Griffith Show. I even stole some of his lines, like: "It's no fun when that iron door clangs shut" and "You gotta get up pritty eaaaaarly in the morning to pull one over on me" and the "loooong arm of the law." I hope the audience enjoyed my performance as much as I enjoyed putting it on.

Some of the "guys" and girls on the cast of The Case of the Kiss Kiss Diamond
Mai and I as, respectively, the trusty attorney for Tommy Jo Larmer and Larmer himself.
Director Vero Perez talks to the team backstage just before our performance begins.

Here I am in full "Barney Fife" mode, pontificating to the audience after "Lorna" and I have rounded up the six possible suspects.

Tommy Jo's rival detective, Lorna Sanderson, the woman he blames for foiling his last opportunity to catch the Kiss Kiss Diamond thieves (but who is actually a far more talented P.I.), was played by "CK Girl", a veteran of our team who first joined REAL Christian Theater when she was in 6th grade. She's now a high school junior and one of the directors for the team. Here, she grills an audience member during dinner. While the audience ate their meal, the actors mingled with them enabling the audience members to question them and try to suss out who the thief or thieves were. At the end of the show, the audience votes on who they think the thief is and the character that receives the most votes is announced to the audience as the guilty party. Thus, all of us were theoretically supposed to be prepared to be "guilty." Nonetheless, "CK Girl" was shocked when her character, Lorna was found to be guilty. She acted least guilty of all of us, and I guess in the end the audience found that the most supiscious thing of all.

Tommy Jo Larmer turns up the heat on some of the audience members during the dinner portion of the show possible, considering them possible "suspects."

Judith, Jessica, Riki, and Babs (clockwise from top right) were a tremendous help. Babs and Riki took money and tickets and Judith and Jessica helped with the food.

Our team manager, Carol Paez, did a stellar job of managing the dinner portion of the dinner show, ensuring that the audience had lots of hot pasta, garlic bread, fresh salad, and brownies, ice cream, and peach cobbler for dessert.


Beverly Mae said...

Wow. I can't believe we pulled it off! I thought it came together nicely even though we had a surprise ending! Great Job acting "Larmer" and thank you for coaching me with my acting=)

Mai said...

It was a lot of fun and it turned out really great. I can't wait until the full-length play, it's gonna be amazing!

TomComedy said...

You may want to advertise your show on "The Christian Comedy Show" which can be heard at Thanks.


혜빈 said...

it was a great show..
it turned out really well...

your were great!!!

Anonymous said...

i am very interested in the mystery dinner and i have a few questions, would you contact me by via email
thank you.

lucy said...

Can anyone tell me where to find this script for free? My family and I have been looking for hours to try to find it. It is imperative that we have it asap. If anyone has a copy of it and could send it to me over the email I would even be willing to do that. I really appreciate it! Please write back!
Thank you so much!