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Opinion

Column: Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Homegrown theater under a La Cañada carport takes him on a magical ride

Because I wanted to savor the unbelievable I arrived early at the carport theater located halfway up Viro Road in La Cañada. It was raining and I wanted to experience the pace and enthusiasm of the cast as they prepared for the evening’s theatrics before the show was canceled, which I assumed it would be. However, I was pleased to see that the phrase “the show must go on” was not merely a fanciful quip.

The actors swarmed the carport, putting chairs in place and attempting to cover the intended audience with a tarp. Since I didn’t want to get in the way, I stood out of the way and observed the magic they produced. Observation connects you with others and makes you eager to see the potential of what could unfold.

Theaters are unique places, magicians’ trick boxes where the dramatic is pulled and thrust in front of an audience. Theaters are a haven for the unexplainable, the comic, the absurd and the tragic. Watching the actors put the finishing touches on their carport theater in the rain, I realized something magical was about to happen.

Regardless of the rain, the audience came, filled the orchestra seats and waited. Although taking shelter beneath the tarp, not everyone would remain dry. Anticipation permeated throughout.

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Craig Taylor wrote and directed the play. He has orchestrated his vision of theater for more than 40 years. I attempted to intellectualize what drives him to perform and create a platform so others can showcase their talents and their love for performance. I derived no rationales, but perhaps it’s as simple as one pursuing a passion that defines who they are.

Craig opened the evening by singing a standard first recorded in 1960 by Anita Bryant, “My Little Corner of the World.” I understood the metaphor as he tempted his audience to dream a little dream in his little corner of the world. The actors took us on a magic carpet ride amidst their dialogue, lyrics and theatrics.

The show “Weirdhemian Rhapsody,” was a spoof on the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biographical account of Queen’s Freddy Mercury. Its satirical countenances highlighted the absurd and created a paradoxical lampoon, making fun of the original work.

Parody was first exemplified in Aristotle’s “Poetics.” This form of Greek literature took the sublime to the ridiculous. In “Weirdhemian Rhapsody,” the actors brought humor and conveyed the absurd as they mimicked contemporary culture.

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Taylor’s work is definitely not for the faint of heart since it requires one to be well versed in a broad spectrum of contemporary culture. Throughout the evening, I found myself on a 10-second delay. “I don’t get it,” I’d think. Then, 10 seconds later, I’d have my aha moment. Since parody is a difficult genre of writing, I appreciated Taylor’s brilliance. The ability to exploit existing dialogue into paradoxical humor with salient metaphors is well beyond my pay grade.

Serena McIntyre, a barista at Starbucks and one of the actors, introduced Taylor to me. Shortly thereafter, we were involved in a heady conversation about the Doo-wop era of music. Since he once owned a record store on Foothill called Holding Company, he spoke with authority about the Crystals, the Ronettes and groups from the 1950s and ’60s that I hardly remembered. As he sang verses from the songs, I felt I was back on the block listening to the harmonic sounds of Dion and the Belmonts.

The actors at Saturday’s show were the essence of the evening. Heather LeHigh excitedly spoke of her love of performing. Listening to her, I realized it was a rare opportunity to witness others doing what they love.

Regardless of rain, their spirits weren’t dampened, and they proved that the show must indeed go on.

Joe Puglia is a practicing counselor, a retired professor of education and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at doctorjoe@ymail.com. Visit his website at doctorjoe.us.

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