Lenore Chiarello Gibson of Rio Rancho might have a small role in Say Goodnight Gracie when it comes to Popejoy Sunday afternoon. Then again, she might not.
A couple of weeks ago, we posted a call on our Facebook page for some furniture for the show. Lenore had a bench we needed and volunteered it. For our part, just to make sure the production is happy with the bench and all the other furniture they requested, we picked up two of everything. When Alan Safier, who plays George Burns in the one-man show, pulls up at the stage door Sunday, we’ll give him his pick between Lenore’s bench and another one we found. He’ll make the final call as to whether Lenore’s bench suits his needs and lands in the limelight.
A few of the shows we’ve been bringing to Albuquerque have been asking us to furnish set pieces. Ed Asner did for FDR, so he rolled around our stage in a wheelchair we borrowed from Albuquerque Little Theater. The nun in Sister’s Christmas Catechism needed us to supply a Christmas tree, so Ryan and Lisa Lindquist got to see their tree on our stage.
I find it interesting that an actor could show up the day of the performance, not knowing the specifics of the furnishings for the play he or she will perform in just a few hours. To me, that would be more than a little unsettling. Then again, I’ve never performed a play over a four-year span like Safier has done with Say Goodnight Gracie. Maybe it helps you to keep the play fresh, keeps you on your toes as an actor.
A little unfamiliarity may be a hallmark for this production. I had the chance to interview Alan in New York last October. He said that he was hired to replace an actor who had to have throat surgery. Once he was hired, his agent told him that his first performance would be in two weeks.
“You mean, I have to learn a 95-minute, one-man show in two weeks?” Alan asked. He actually learned it in one week but that first perfomance certainly stressed more than a few of his nerves. He only rehearsed on the set once the night before.
When he arrives at Popejoy on Sunday, he’ll have to choose which furniture pieces to use. Some came from ALT again. Some came from UNM’s Theatre Department. And, of course, there’s Lenore’s bench.
Whether her bench plays a supporting role in the show or is relegated to understudy, Lenore gets to see the show on us.
If you have a desire to give your furnishings a starring role on our stage, watch our Facebook page. We have a couple of shows next season for which. I’ll bet, we’ll be seeking loans of furniture. When we return it to you, after its star turn on our stage, maybe you can give that once overlooked, overstuffed chair a more prominent place in your home. With better light.
Terry S. Davis
Photo: Lenore's bench backstage at Popejoy Hall.