I Remember Thursday
Beth Comeaux (Institutional Gifts Manager)
Over the course of 18 years and 16 performances with Minnesota Opera, I have just a few memories. One more dramatic memory that comes to mind was during Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus by Libby Larsen over twenty (yikes) years ago. We were in “tech” week at The World Theater (now The Fitzgerald) and as with new works, there were adaptations to both the libretto and music each day. As a cast, we had gotten used to expect anything—and we also knew that there were going to be some a-typical elements to the show since we had a stage and a T.V. director—and we knew there would be a wee bit of electricity. You know, the kind that shows those cool bolts of lightening as Frankenstein’s monster was being jolted into life with his creator shouting “LIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!” beneath him?
Steven Tharp, wonderful tenor (and fabulous actor—which was not in his favor in this instance), grabbed the cables that were lowering the monster. Unknown by anyone on stage, there happened to be electricity flowing through those cables, and we all thought that Steven’s “OH, MY GOD…OH, MY GOD!!! HELP ME!!!” was an extraordinary improvisation and that he as really getting into the scene.
Nic Munic, stage director and saver of life, came bounding (yes, bounding) from the back of the theater, leaped onto the stage and tackled Steven as if he was back in high school playing football. Had he not done so—and had Steven not had on tennis shoes for rehearsal—our talented Dr. Frankenstein would have been toasted. And not in that good way.
All ended positively, though. Steven survived, returning to rehearsal in a few days and is currently in the midst of a wonderful career. One in which no live electricity is used. What was additionally memorable to this production, however, was that Kevin Smith (former President & CEO of Minnesota Opera) gave each cast member the permission to be released from the show, no questions asked.
What? And give up show business?