Spending an evening tending a bar has always been on my bucket list. Tending the bar with a goth masochist in the lobby of a theater in Tokyo during a production of The Rocky Horror Show on Halloween was not on my bucket list. It was not on the list because things like that just don’t happen…until they do.
I had been to the movie at least a dozen times back in high school and could toss a slice of toast with the best of them, so when I got an email asking if I might be interested in volunteering for Front of House for the production, I jumped at it. If I agreed to do at least two, I could watch the show for free. Sounded like a good deal to me. I had never really done much volunteer work and I liked the idea of being at least marginally associated with the production.
So I did opening night where they had me handing out programs and generally making myself useful. And I got to see the show, which was at least twice as much fun as I had thought it would be. I mean, I hadn’t done the Time Warp in over thirty years, but it’s just like falling off a bicycle.
Although throwing things is an integral part of the experience, I didn’t. This is Tokyo, after all. Audience members were only allowed to toss the items in the goody bags available for purchase at the bar. They included confetti (instead of rice) for the wedding scene, a sheet of newspaper to keep off the rain, two playing cards, a rubber glove and a (Styrofoam) hot dog. At times I’m an old fashioned purist; if it wasn’t a real hot dog, it didn’t count. Shouting obscenities at the appropriate moments was enough.
I did both shows on Halloween, wearing a minimalist costume of tiny witch’s hat and chin wart. For the matinee, I took tickets and reminded people to turn off their cell phones. I guess I did a good job because I got promoted to the bar for the evening performance, which being on a Saturday night AND Halloween, was pretty crazy. And a lot of fun. Theater-goers tend to be very thirsty.
There was a director’s talk after the matinee and there I learned just how special the experience was. It is very difficult to get a license to produce the show; only the director’s persistent whining made it possible (his words, not mine!) And the cast, all talented actors and singers who were willing to don corsets and fishnet tights and march around in front of a bunch of strangers…well, all I can say is yet again I was blessed with a one-of-a-kind opportunity. They are the salt in my food, the wind in my willows, the breath in my lungs.