I joined The Little Theater of Rio de Janeiro while I, the American overseas wife, searched for something to do and found the roll at TLT was made up of other American overseas wives. Our director was Ruth Stanton, a tough lady who put us to work in different ways. I became props coordinator, a job that entailed scouring for pieces of this and that around the expatriate community. Which was why Renato came home one evening and found our dining table gone as well as sundry other objects.
Ruth cast me in small roles where I never had a chance to speak. There were backstage dramas among us. Lupe was having an affair with Tom, and an American man asked his wife for a divorce because he had fallen in love with a Carioca who had a part as a waitress. Each night, after rehearsals, I came home to Renato and fell into bed knowing I was wound up and wouldn’t sleep for hours.
I auditioned for the role of Kate in “Kiss Me Kate” with the song “So in Love” and received plaudits. But reading for the part did me in. “So cute!” said the director of my 12-year-old speaking voice. I think I have two sets of vocal chords, one for singing (I’m a lyric soprano and quite powerful) and the other for speech. So that was that for the part of Kate, the shrew.
Ruth assigned color combinations for our costumes. My Brazilian tailor was intrigued by the headgear, a tall cone with a veil. Wondering, he fabricated it, but I don’t remember how I got it to stay on my head.
“Kiss Me Kate” was the crowning opus of Ruth Stanton. It was too bad, after all the work that went into it, it ran only two nights. Two nights were all Renato could take, as a matter of fact, as he broke into a sweat every time I appeared on stage. I’m the one in the mustard-colored outfit, far left.
Those were the days…..