Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chronology: Joel Shoemaker Looks Back for Black Patent Leather Shoes

Here we are again, with another blog post from Joel Shoemaker, who looks at life and theater differently from anyone else I know. I asked him for something sort of Joelish on the subject of "Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?," which he is currently working on for Community Players. And here's what Joel had to say...

I’m something of an expert when it comes to baking. My vast experience, dating all the way back to August 2011, ambitiously includes…cheesecake. Oh, and some sort of spin on tiramisu. And bars! I just CANNOT possibly be expected to remember all of it. My history with baking is just that impressive. Oh and there was that one time last weekend when I microwaved some sort of Rice Krispie concoction. That’s it. I knew if I just starting going through these MANY sundry culinary creations I would come up with the one I wanted. Something would jog my memory.

Making the Rice Krispie treat is a fairly complicated deed but I mastered it. In due time. The problem was the architecture. It was a pumpkin spice treat, as was the cheesecake, as were the bars. These are treats that beg to be shaped as their flavor suggests. Being Halloween-time, I supposed such a shape-making device would not be much trouble to acquire. The baking/cookie section? Why would they be there? With pots/pans/utensils-of-kitchen-type? OF COURSE NOT. How about weddings, by random chance? Nope. In my fury, checking out with only candy corn in hand, before accepting defeat I merely ask the checkout gal, do you have cookie cutters? There are none in Heaven, I understand, but this is FREAKIN’ WALMART. And turning around, IMMEDIATELY outside of the particular checkout lane I had chosen, sits a beautiful display of every shape and size of cookie cutter imaginable.

I chose the one with the comfort grip, for obvious reasons.

A great many years prior to being an expert baker, I was an aspiring chef of another type. My sister and I, we grew up in kitchens. Mom and dad were basically always cooking something. As such, I think we both took a natural interest as children. My interest, at this particular time – and since I have no real idea and it couldn’t matter any less I’m going to call myself ten years old here – was in grilled cheese. My mother worked in a liquor store, and my dad spent a lot of time cooking in the bar portion at the back of this. One day, we made grilled cheese on the flat grill and dad offered the sage advice of not touching the grill because, well, that would suck. Still, I was given the crucial task of distinguishing your ordinary toast from the gourmet sandwich by gently placing the processed cheese slice onto the leftmost slice of Texas toast. Always Texas toast. Always the left. It’s crucial to your success as a gastronomic great, so, please, write it down. Obviously, I heeded this advice. Just with complete disregard for the other.

You know, when I placed my right hand firmly upon the cooking surface. And held it there. And said, yeah, that totally does suck.

Before successful chef, I was a budding police officer riding around on my bicycle, singing my own siren, demanding license and registration and handing out many a ticket. No one was safe, from what I understand. I don’t remember any of this.

Perhaps I was too young. Or maybe it was my repeated childhood love of porch-diving, but that’s another story.

The point is, we grow up. We change.

Thank God.

I will never be that young again.

This is a theme of the ever-popular musical, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, opening November 4th at Community Players in Bloomington. Even better, it follows a particular group of children growing up with a Catholic education. And, it’s hilarious. Basically, Eddie (played at Community Players by Austin Travis) falls in love with Becky (Jennifer Stevens). But he’s really, REALLY bad at it. Of course, Eddie and Becky have friends -- Nancy (Mindy Lahood), Virginia (Kelly Slater), Mary (Reena Artman) Mike (Tom Smith), Louie (Mark Robinson) and Felix the Filth Fiend Lindor (Joel Shoemaker) -- to help them get into PLENTY of trouble with the Priest (Bob McLaughlin) and the nuns (Christie Vellella, Nancy Nickerson, Samm Bettis and Melissa Fornoff) along the way. Throw in your regular sex education and a senior prom and you have a fairly comprehensive (and yes, as complicated as it sounds) plot.

It's retrospective. It's a yearbook. It's reflective. Nostalgia. I didn't have time for Wikipedia this time but I did read the back of the script. It states this as Chicago's longest running show, and some kind of record-breaker in Philadelphia!

Find out why and watch all of these characters grow up before your eyes just like those pills that, with water, turned all kinds of shapes and sizes (introducing three-year olds everywhere to the fascinating world of pharmaceuticals!!) through the first three weekends in November, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM, closing November 20th.

I know you’re still asking yourself, “But, Joel, do black patent leather shoes really reflect up?"

I've been in rehearsals for over a month and I still haven’t a clue. So what? Everything has flaws...

And there you have it. Joel Shoemaker's inimitable stylings on shiny shoes, cheesecake, Texas toast and pharmaceuticals. Thanks, Joel!

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