Recapping The Butler Did It

Posted on November 13, 2012

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The Cast of ‘The Butler Did It’: (L to R) Geri Taylor as Laura Carlyle, Charmaine Crutcher as Charity Hayes, Griffin Scott as Peter Flimsey, Barbara Knight as Miss Mable, Wendy Wilson Ryland as Haversham/Mabel Dupre, Director – Brandi Albritton, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker as Ms Rita Eyelesbarrow, Dane Warner as Chandler Marlowe, Richard Graeber as Father White, Joshua Green as Louie Fan and John Bennett as Rick Carlyle

Brandi Albritton directed The Butler Did It and she was terrific. I met Brandi at the theater after we spoke on the phone, she had me read a few lines and voila, she gave me the role of Peter Flimsey, my first acting gig in almost a decade.
Brandi was more than director though, she did everything, tech, set design, wardrobe you name it.
She is a dynamo and I’m sure the success of The Butler Did It is only the beginning for Brandi.
I owe her a debt I can’t repay, acting in this show was an experience I’ll never forget and something I desperately needed on a personal level.
Never would have happened without you Brandi, a million, billion, trillion thanks.

The lovely Geri Taylor and my pal Dane Warner on stage as Chandler Marlowe and Laura Carlyle.
Dane and I had a few mutual friends from our school daze, oops, I mean days and we had some great conversations back stage and I swear we’re gonna get together for that beer soon. Geri spells her name with one G, one E, one R, one I thank you very much 🙂

 

Louie Fan accuses Ms Eyelesbarrow of murder as Peter Flimsey, Laura Carlyle, Father White and Charity Haze look on.
Joshua Green played Louie Fan an Oriental detective in the style of Charlie Chan and between acts 1 & 2 Josh (in character mingling with the crowd during our final performance) was verbally attacked by a guest who accused him of portraying racist stereotypes, the attendee apparently had an invisible stick jammed up their a$$.
After embarrassing a fine young man (and the other guests at the table too), a young man who by the way, is a college student who volunteers his time to work with kids at the theater and wants to be a minister when he graduates, the offended party and the stick walked out of the show.
Joshua showed grace beyond his years and even though he had every right to be upset by this unprovoked public attack, turned in yet another first class performance.

As Laura Carlyle and Ms Rita Eyelesbarrow look on Peter Flimsey introduces himself to Miss Mable.
My good friend, marketing guru Cindy Ingram counts the Strauss among her many clients and she took this black and white picture on opening night.
It really captures the essence of millionaire matron Miss Mable, my wife pointed this picture out to me, we both love how her head is thrown back in delight and how the tops of the heads in the crowd frame the picture.
Ms Barbara played Miss Mable wonderfully, she had more lines than any of the other actors and a most memorable death scene.
As much as I appreciated her performance though – I’ll remember her most for the uplifting and lovely pre-show prayers offered before each show by the matriarch of The Butler Did It.
We’d gather in a circle and hold hands as she prayed in a sweet and humble voice so different from the commanding cadence of her character, yet just as powerful.

Geri Taylor and John Bennett as husband and wife mystery writers Rick & Laura Carlyle.
John has a great death scene and we always giggled backstage listening the crowds reaction to his cries of “I’m dying, dying… dead, DEAD”!
Father White and I drag him off stage by his heels at the end of Act 1 and even though I’m sure he got rug burns from hell John never complained.
Interesting fact about Mr Bennett: even though he’s lived in northeast Louisiana for decades John is a native son of southern California and grew up 3 houses down from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
After his ‘death’ my character and the new widow Carlyle waste no time starting an affair.
After our final performance I told the terrifically talented Geri Taylor (one G, one E, one R, one I) that she was the best imaginary lover I’d ever had 😉

Moi’ as Peter Flimsey.
My surrogate father Pete Battaglia says I looked like Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.
For some reason I suspect the average theater goer won’t catch that reference.

It was a pleasure to work with Cheryl Ariaz Wicker again, Cheryl was the only member of the cast whom I knew before rehearsals. She is a consummate professional and a great castmate.
Robert Graeber played Father White and he was fun on and off the set, he also went the extra mile too, supplying the walkie talkies we needed to communicate with the director and rigging up a figurine to fall off the mantel at an exact moment.
Wendy Ryland Wilson, who is revealed to be the duplicitous Mabel Dupree in the climax of The Butler Did It, was a wonder to behold.
I love working with people who’re more talented than me, it makes me a better performer and with Wendy I had no choice but to raise my game, sometimes I’d forget my own lines watching her work – she is that damned enchanting.
Charmaine Crutcher defines ‘team player’. Not only did she do a knockout job with her portrayal of Charity Haze, Charmaine assisted Brandi and helped all of us with our lines. In fact, I’m pretty sure Charmaine knew most of our lines better than we did – she saved us on more than one occassion during our four performances in those terrifying moments, the awkward pauses when someone struggles for a line.
In addition to the director and cast I have to say thanks to everyone at the Strauss, especially Donna and theater director Jon Baccarini who made the experience so much fun.
Can’t wait to do it again, see you at the theater!

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