In 2010 Norm, one of our new friends, suggested that I join him as a “super” in an upcoming opera production from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. A supernumerary is basically an extra, a non-speaking, non-singing bit part, such as a servant serving champagne, or a random guy leaning out a window ringing a bell. I have never had previous experience with stage productions so I was pretty excited to join the voice students, most of whom were nearly fifty years younger.
As we joined the male chorus in the dressing room, we “seniors” found ourselves among some exciting talent. In all five different productions, we had some fun discussions about our lives, and the aspirations of the young crowd. At one point I was asked what my first job was, and I replied that I worked at the phone company as an installer. One of the lads then said, “Oh, you worked at a Verizon store?” not realizing what a telephone installer’s job was back in the 1960s.
In all, we senior supers were called to work in five productions over the next few years: Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, two different productions of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and the best of all – Carmen by Georges Bizet.
Collected below are several photo galleries and links to YouTube video excerpts.
As an added bonus, further down is a link to a vintage short film produced by my cousin Tim back in 1957. Our grandfather had a nice 8mm movie camera that Tim occasionally borrowed to make action films using his friends and me as silent actors. In the film below, oddly titled The Mad Ghoul, I play the title role, killing strangers in a park. Eventually the local cops engage the killer in an exchange of gunfire. The scene was actually in Tim’s basement, with potted plants as background scenery, a sheet laid out as the sidewalk, and leaves and scraps of paper being fed into a scavenged vacuum cleaner motor to simulate a windy locale. I had the original film digitized back in 2008, then used Apple’s app iMovie to add music and sound effects. Go have a look; it’s really cheesy! It deserves a thumbs down! 👎🏻