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The Fractured Fedora a Super Smash Hit
by Pearl Fischer

Just as in Das Rheingold, the Prologue to this year’s Super skit introduced us to the themes and motifs that were carried through the following three acts; in this case, however, the themes and motifs hit a little closer to home and were infinitely funnier to the captive audience. It began with two backstage personnel (Jenny Jirousek and Andrew Korniej) bickering over the status of an umbrella, asking that profound question, “Is it a prop or is it a costume?” The familiar operatic in-fighting was disrupted by Katherine Brazaitis, note-perfect with her headset-wearing, harried Stage Manager.

From there we were taken to a kindergarten where bratty children--Susan Anderson (adorable in pigtails), Marcel Delgado and Grove Wiley--demanded to hear scary stories of the opera. And what could be scarier than the fate of SFO Super Captains? When asked to define a Super the kids’ responses got roars of approval: (Supers) stand on stage a long time, (Supers) get replaced by stagehands and ballet dancers, (Supers) take pictures of principals, etc. etc. All three managed to let their Inner Child run rampant and almost caused a riot with their screams of horror whenever a certain Southern California city was mentioned!

Act One was brought to an abrupt halt by the first fire alarm of the evening; we were then led on to the executive offices of SFO where Mike Harvey and Mimi Timberlake began auditions for a new Super Captain. Priscilla Lore looked like Eve Arden and sounded like Judy Holliday as a timid secretary bringing on a cast of backstage personnel interviewing for the-less-than-desirable position.

First up was the disinterested stage manager (Katherine) who exited cuing the Lighting Director. There was a roar of recognition as Paul Newman led on a blinded, olfactory-sensitive Michael Strickland in a brilliant pastiche of the somber entrance of Don Carlos’ Grand Inquisitor. Next up was an inspired Prompter in a Box (Bruce McNaughton) quietly cueing the executives and himself. A ditsy, umbrella-hurling Props Manager (Jenny) preceded an arch Wardrobe Person (Andrew playing Jenny Green) who walked offstage taking a well-timed cell phone call from Placido Domingo.

The final, unsuspecting interviewee was Lisa Lorea, brilliantly revealing herself in a Doris Day moment, with “My name is Carrie, Carrie Murphy,” as she slipped off her eyeglasses and virtually undid her bun and let her hair fall down around her shoulders. Lisa did a charming and rather accurate impersonation of Carrie, who seemed to be laughing louder than anyone else in the audience.

Another fire alarm cut Act Two "short" but we were soon attending one of those Opera Company morale-boosting parties to introduce the new Super Captain. Katherine Brazaitis did an excellent Pamela R. with sloooow, deliberate diction, interspersed with Teutonisms like “Oper-Schmutz”, which already seems to have entered the Super lexicon. "Pamela" was followed onstage by Darcy Fink, as a development department person, panhandling spare change for the Opera. For those who attended any of last year’s Opening Night parties, Katherine’s string of words beginning with “super” (but never ending in “numerary”) would strike a chord, as would her readiness to be distracted by the demands of her dramaturg.

The climactic scene of Fedora transported us into new Super Captain Carrie’s worst nightmare; The Night of the Living Dead Supers. Carrie cheerfully took up her new duties only to become faced with the frightening reality of dealing with demanding Supers as eight zombies, all carrying umbrellas, sleep-walked through the audience to a chorus of “Carrie… Carrie” and surrounded her onstage. Screaming “STOP!” Lisa burst through the zombies, and for the riotous finale had four new Production Super Captains (Nancy, Charlie, Larry and Bruce) lead the whining mass back through the audience like the Gods on their entry into Valhalla!
The skit was consistently hilarious with its up-to-the-minute seasonal references such as the Don Carlos fire alarms, “changing” production values and, of course, the ubiquitous Fedoras. The cast was both well-rehearsed and improvisational and the range of characters cleverly drawn.

After group bows author, director and narrator Charlie Lichtman was deservedly called back onstage by Stephanie Salter to take a solo one and received the first standing ovation of the evening.

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