The year was 1996. In the science fiction world, Khan and his followers had just escaped prosecution by the survivors of the Eugenics War, with the help of a DY-100 sleeper ship. Either that, or Cyberdyne Systems was busy building Skynet, blissfully unaware that it would launch Judgement Day in less than a year. Or, apes would rise up against their human masters, or the Jupiter II would become lost on its voyage to Alpha Centauri. Ummm, take your pick. All's I know is that Austin Powers was still frozen.
Anyways, in the real world, I had just completed my second season at Snow Camp, was looking for a way to get back into college, and had performed in The Homage That Follows. As that show was going into production, I found out that my church was planning a pretty elaborate Christmas production, based on the oratorio "The Gift of Christmas." I found out there were roles to be played, and I decided I wanted to be a part of the production, one way or another.
I was a bit nervous about auditions, since my last Christmas play experience had come about 20 years earlier. I decided to audition for the role of Joseph, and sought out the help of my friends the Appersons to prepare myself. There were several men vying for the part, but I somehow managed to trump them all to become the step-father of Jesus.
We got into rehearsals, and were well on our way to getting the show ready, when our director had to take a leave of absence. I can't remember where she went off-hand, but suddenly we had a Christmas program that needed to get going within a week or so.
Joy and I took it upon ourselves to get the show up and running. We sketched out the set and got hold of materials to construct a stage, a manger, and a house scene. We sought out help with costumes and makeup from friends in the community. We took all of our theatre knowledge and threw it into the production.
Somehow, magically, maniacally, it all came together. The day of the pageant, my parents came to see the show. I was fitted into my costume, and combed out my beard. The makeup people had built a crepe beard for me to wear in the show, but I had rebuffed it, seeing as how I could grow a convincing beard in pretty short order. Still, I was feeling a bit nervous before the show.
Now, I'm not one to feel stage fright, and I had been singing in our choir for the previous four years, but this was a different situation altogether...
Dr. Rumack and Randy: This was a different situation.
Ahem. As I was saying, this was different from being on a secular stage or singing with other voices in the choir. This was me playing Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, miked and singing solo, before God and everybody. Did I mention it was the putative 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth?
In this situation, I did what I had to do. Ten minutes before the performance, I hurridly excused myself from the cloud of wise men, shepherds, angels, and blessedly virginal mother-to-be, headed for the men's room, pulled the hem of my headdress back, and promptly threw up.
A few minutes later, Joy and I headed to places in the sanctuary, set to sing our songs. She went out first and sang her part wonderfully. I went out and as I was singing, my voice cracked. Badly. Several times. People tried to reassure me after the show, saying that my nervousness just added that much to the performance, because it made Joseph seem more real and human. It was nice of them, but I still felt as if I could have done better.
It was once a dream of mine to play Christ in an Easter production around the time that I turned 33. Some people have dreams of running a Fortune 500 company, I had that. Sadly, I never got that chance. However, looking back, doing "The Gift of Christmas" was a good experience for me. As I noted before, it brought all of my theatrical skills to bear, and I learned my strengths and weaknesses. I also have to say that I look pretty good in biblical garb, if I may take a moment to Narcissize.