Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Harpole finds himself right at home in Playhouse’s ‘Emerald City’

A couple of weeks ago after a long night’s recording session I got an invitation to attend morning services at The Church of Christ in Batesville with Josh James officiating. He did a bang up job of a sermon too! He emphasized the fact that we need to put less value on material things and set our aim a little lower in that depth while concentrating on the spiritual ideals consistent with life on the path to Christ.

It wasn’t too hard for me to accept this theology because my aim, materially speaking, has been on a downward trajectory ever since I moved out of my daddy’s house 40 years ago and had to start buying my own cars, clothes, toys as well as those of two belligerent and contentious spouses. See Proverbs: “Better to live in the wilderness alone than in mansion with a continuous and angry woman.”

Well anyway, the message was good, the singing was good and the congregation of a goodly and godly spirit. Thank you for making welcome.

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Upon our return to the studio, Chad got a call from a neighbor who had three tickets to The Panola Playhouse production of The Wizard of Oz. (She may just have wanted us to get out of the neighborhood for an afternoon of relative peace and quiet, I can’t say, but if it was a bribe she sure pulled the right trigger).

It has been hinted from inattentive and disgruntled readers of this column that I am culturally challenged. (Imagine that?) So I got me a chance to bone up on my shortcomings in more sophisticated environments that I usually inhibit (oops I meant inhabit).

As all of y’all know, those of you who are parents or grandparents anyway, that in the process of raising three or four children and six or seven grandkids, you just can’t help being acquainted with the plot, most of the characters, the juxtaposition (a new word I learned in the ACME mail order guide to journalism course I’m flunking — oops, I meant taking) of good and evil, as well of the first name of the wicked witch (Elphaba).

I was truly entertained by the whole production. I didn’t see a single discombobulation in the whole shootin’ match and I look for them, having been shoved in front of an audience with a large assembly of co-players, any one of which can blow a line, make a wrong choreographical move or just freeze, thus affecting the whole scene. (In my case it’s usually a busted G string on my guitar).

I realize the problematic hazards of live performances. And I also realize that the producer, stage manager, director and crew are equally as culpable for any glitches in their departments. There were 10 scenes in Act I and 12 in Act II. There were about 50 actors, mostly children, and two dogs (I think) playing the role of Toto.

As a grandparent with six to ride herd on (for short periods of time) and dogs I don’t even know the names of, it’s only by bluster, bluff and bribe that I manage to keep the walls of the house accounted for, much less come up with anything that involves a stage, children, and animals.  According to the late W.C. Fields, (uh nevermind this paper won’t print what he said.) They made it look so easy and effortless (which it was definitely not), showed great dedication and unity of spirit, and a lot of sweat donated by the whole crew.

That Playhouse is a community treasure. Support it and enjoy it, if for no other reason give creative minded (aren’t they all) children an opportunity to shine somewhere besides the street and have a better casting in the play of life. L. Frank Baum didn’t knøw what he started.

Back home from church and the Emerald City,

Ricky Harpole

(Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)