Seven Keys of Baldpate

It was time once again for another trip to the Taproot Theatre in north Seattle. I believe this was the fifth play we've seen there and, being the creatures of habit Kristin and I are, we have a nice little routine down on play night. We're also starting to feel a bit like regulars at the playhouse which is nice.

Anyway, this time it was to see the comical mystery Seven Keys of Baldpate. The play is set in a "summer mountain resort during the winter" in the early 1900's and is about a pulp fiction author who heads to the Baldpate Inn, presumably with the only key to the place, to try and write a novel in a 24-hour period to win a bet worth $15,000. His efforts to work in absolute solitude come apart at the seems as it turns out that his key is just one of seven. A safe in the inn becomes a drop point for $500,000 worth of bribe money for a local politician and his cronies and a host of back-stabbing crooks parade through the inn to try to get the money, all the while the star of the play is trying to work on his new book. Or is he?

The play was indeed very funny and, once again, the acting was superb. One of the things Kristin and I enjoy most about attending so many plays is that we start to recognize some of the actors from previous works and it's really neat to see the range of emotions and character types they can perform.

As for Friday night's play, however, there was one aspect that completely stole the show. It was announced minutes before the start of the play that the star of the show had to tend to a family emergency and couldn't be present. They announced his replacement and both Kristin and I figured it was simply the understudy and that this happens more often than we'd expect. So, the play starts, and out comes the backfill for the main character of the play with a script in hand. At first I refused to believe we were actually paying to watch someone read the script. I was actually getting kind of annoyed because it was such a jarring break of the suspension of disbelief. Then it occurred to us that this is a small community theatre, albeit in Seattle, but that there probably wasn't a true understudy. Our instincts were correct. The man on stage, script in hand, was the director's husband. He was actually the scene and sound designer and was literally filling in as an emergency.

And you know what? He was awesome. Sure, he had to glance at the script every few seconds, but he somehow -- miraculously -- had the part completely dialed otherwise. He was fantastic with his body language, facial expressions, and blocking. And the role he played was pretty active and was by far the largest speeking part in the play. The fact that he was actually the scene and sound designer and had been thrown on stage at the last second and was able to give such a great performance is truly outstanding. We never clapped as hard at the end as we had when he came out to take a bow. I was truly impressed.

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