You know how sometimes you read things too fast and your brain fills in the blanks?
I got a Facebook message Sunday morning from noted Good Company actor and director Karan Johnson (whose new show, “Witness for the Prosecution,” opens Thursday at the 2nd Space Theatre, by the way) telling me about the last two performances of “I Hate Hamlet.” She wrote:
“Our Barrymore became ill and the U S, Ted Nunes, had to step in... Ted had NEVER acted onstage before...and he NAILED it. … the joys of live theater! He goes on today too.”
This happened next, I swear: Somehow my brain added the word “congressman” following “U S.” So I thought that U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had somehow been in the audience at the 2nd Space Theatre and had valiantly stepped in not only to 1) save the day at the Saturday evening performance; but 2) volunteer to do the Sunday show as well.
Now that’s what you call constituent services.
My mind raced with all sorts of questions. Who knew that Congressman Nunes was a theater fan? How did he happen to have the role memorized? Is he a season-ticket holder? Did anyone take a photo of him in tights? Was he worried about offending the pro-Shakespeare vote?
In the history of the United States Congress, has anything like this ever happened?
In those brief but intense nanoseconds of mind swirling, I even got a little selfish: Ugh, I thought, now I’m going to have to turn around a story for the next day’s paper and eat up my one true day off this week, because, let’s face it, having one of your nation’s leaders give his all in the name of art should be recognized. And someone should tell the Washington Post.
Then, upon a careful re-reading, I realized my error. “U S” stood for understudy. Ted Nunes, not Devin – a twisted-synapse jump to a conclusion – is a well-known Fresno musician (though I never realized he’s an acting talent, as well.) In fact, Ted Nunes is in the upcoming “Witness for the Prosecution” as well.
Well, there went all those clicks from my “Congressman as Barrymore” story leading the Drudge Report.
By the way, it was a big weekend for understudies at GCP. On Sunday, Meg Clark went on for Breanne Gallagher as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. Chris Mangels, who plays Henry Higgins, wrote on Facebook of Clark: “This incredible young person went on stage last night as Eliza Doolittle and absolutely rocked it! What a way to navigate an understudy opportunity! It was my great honor to perform with her!”
(That’s three exclamation points from a revered professor of acting. High praise.)
So, as this Monday draws to a close, let us tip our hats collectively to understudies. You rock. As for Congress, that’s a discussion for another day.