After a year in Rio de Janeiro as an overseas corporate wife and mulling over an occupation — not bridge, no — not golf, no — not the beach — I got a job at the American School of Rio de Janeiro and then joined the American troupe, The Little Theater. Our director Ruth Stanton launched a production that had us rushing off to have our costumes made. Mine was a mustard-colored gown (very odd I thought) and a tall dunce headpiece with veil. That item bemused my Brazilian tailor, who proved up to the job of securing it to my head.
I went up there to try out for the lead part as Kate, sang “So In Love” and received enthusiastic applause. But next day as I read from the script, “I hate men!” I looked over at the seats to see everyone falling over with mirth. Ruth said kindly, “It’s just not for your sweet voice, dear.” I knew that but had tried anyway, bringing my meanest vocal up from the guts. At this stage in my life I am still being asked by strange callers to call my mommy to the phone.
Well, Ruth gave me some extra “bits” to do, in one scene retreating backward from the court bully. In the audience, Renato was sending anguished pleas to San Gennaro in case I tripped (I do that a lot, or at least, I did). It is accurate to say that all my theatrical exploits were harder on Renato than on me. I was having fun. He had to bring himself to the performances and have panic attacks. At the performance itself his attempts to photograph me on stage were so erratic that a friend sitting beside him took the camera away from him and did the job herself. The results were far better than portraits of the necks of people sitting in front.
For one gig at the Hotel Intercontinental, I drove myself there, handed my Beetle over to the valet, and found I had locked the door from the inside. The valet looked at me, said he had to break the window, and proceeded to do so. It was Renato’s job to have it fixed, just as he replaced the stolen car seats. Not that he did these things himself. His driver Yusef came to the house and drove the car away sitting on a crate. I believe he found my seats at the flea market and bought them back. The broken car window was easier to fix.
The broken car window blog will be next.