ActorQuest - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Bway 14
In November, Kristin Huffman made her Broadway debut as Sarah (flute, piccolo and sax) in John Doyle's production of Company. The actress continues her collection of stories about a 15-year career that has led her to the door of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Given that this week included April Fools Day, (loved Craig Brockman's funny April Fools story here on BWW about Raul's 'new' show!) I have my own to share with you from last year!
OH and here is some advance notice for you. I will be doing at Cabaret at ARS NOVA in NYC on May 7th, Monday night (our only night off from COMPANY) AT 8PM. You can get cheap 15 dollar tix on smarttix.com under 'Broadway Spotlight' and then my name. Some of my COMPANY castmates will be featured, including Matt Castle, who will be my accompanist/antagonist, Kelly Jeanne Grant, as my 'hostess' and Rob Cunningham on percussion and backup vocals. There may be some 'guest stars' as well.
You know, I never appreciated this fun day until this year. All those silly pranks seemed so pointless to me, but I have a new found respect for April 1st and I'll tell you why. THIS year it fell on a day that I am bombarded with a fistful of piano students from about 3pm until 6pm. I did not know that you could use the words "APRIL FOOLS" as a way to state your real feelings for someone and then pretend to negate it all by shouting those words at them. It was a fun day for me.
I must credit Julia, my first student, as my mentor and inspiration, because she walked in and stated "OH NO, I left my piano books in my mom's car." After a beat, in which I reacted with an irritated sigh she yelled "APRIL FOOLS" and whipped her book out of her shirt. I decided to play back and said, "Aren't you the clever little witch?" I followed her style by waiting for the reaction, which was a look as if to say, "did she say witch or bitch?" and then before she could figure it out I said, "APRIL FOOLS". And we both laughed.
How WONDERFUL! So I kept it up throughout her lesson. The art of it is to wait for the reaction and THEN yell the negation words. I couldn't wait until my next student arrived to try it out so I kicked Julia out five minutes early. As Kelly walked in the door, I said "Your mere presence irritates me". Wait for the reaction...which was a stunned look accompanied with a slight misstep and then ..."APRIL FOOLS". How cool is this holiday???
Smart Sydney was going to be a toughie. She walked in full of ammunition. A "hershey's kiss" for me which ended up being a piece of her rabbit's food wrapped in a silver kiss wrapper. Oh how we laughed. Just you wait, Sydney. We started the lesson with scales and as we always use a metronome to keep the tempo I set it on a normal speed. Sydney takes pride in her scales being very accurate…so as she played C major and then D, I secretly increased the speed. It made her trip up a tad...so I waited until F to increase it again. Another slip up. Then as she approached G major and I turned it down. Now thoroughly enjoying her consternation and frustration, I started tapping my pencil on my leg to a different tempo than the metronome. Off the beat just slightly. She's only NINE so she doesn't understand why it was so hard to play evenly!!! Wait for the reaction...which in this case was a complete halt to the scales and a plunge in her self confidence ...and....."APRIL FOOLS"!
What rapture! With five year old Katie, I had to come up with something special. She's clever....that one...and ornery. She also loves Honey, my two year old golden retriever. So much so that she will chase around the house squealing and driving me crazy. Theirs is a crazy love affair. So I took out my ace bandages and wrapped one around Honey's front paw and one around her head. Leaving room for her eyes of course.
Five o'clock and time for Katie. Her first response was awesome. She sat down in front of Honey and started to soothe her. I could've left it at that, but come ON, it's a holiday! I told her that Honey had broken her paw...and head...and that the doctor said it was from a five year old girl chasing her around the house. Wait for the response...and....TEARS! They were fake tears don't worry. She's a player. But then I yelled, "APRIL FOOLS" and pulled off Honey's bandages.
Finally when her sister came back to pick her up, I said to them both "Ok we're done, now get out of my house". I didn't get the reaction I wanted as they were both chuckling and I couldn't say my fun phrase. So I left them with one more thought. "And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!" The reaction was a nice gasp and so I could now complete the transaction with, "APRIL FOOLS"!
This was just the best day of teaching EVER and I can't wait for next year!!!
Photo - Kristin Huffman as Belle at a benefit, with young student Kimmi Kaster