“Waiting For A Star To Fall”

Muffin hurriedly grabbed her satchel of spells and disembarked from the tour bus, her piercing and vaguely unsettling eyes darting about the theatre and landing upon her dressing area. She immediately began to sage the room, mumbling incantations that would protect her from darkness. I followed her everywhere on that tour, partially to be sure she didn’t harm herself but also I was intrigued by her otherness.
Muffin’s real name was Gayle Abramowitz, an NYU educated Brooklyn raised actress who dabbled in white magic. My conservative Catholic upbringing pleaded with me to avoid her as I would surely be condemned to hell, but my natural penchant for weirdos overtook me. Jackson, Mississippi, was just the 5th stop of a 16 week tour ending in Miami of The Wizard of Oz, not the movie version, for that would cost way to much to produce, but a re-written version with none of the original songs and just a skeleton of the original L. Frank Baum book. Soon the other company members rolled in.
The cast consisted of Suzette, a middle aged married Midwesterner who took tours to distance herself from her bad breathed humorless husband; Jenny and Hugh, both triple threats slumming through this tour and preparing for leads in 42nd Street in the Catskills; and Phillip, a well to do Long Island blue blood who became very friendly when he was drunk. After 16 weeks of stays at The Days Inn, thousands of screaming children, and 6 hour bus rides where our only entertainment was to spontaneously open each other’s luggage, put on that person’s clothes, and use the bus aisle as a fashion show runway, I was physically and emotionally spent.  The paltry sum of $200 per week was barely enough to cover rent and bills at home but, ya know, I was a working actor! Living the dream! 1989 was the 50th Anniversary of the film “Wizard of Oz” and I really cashed in. I had five separate Wizard gigs that year, including a tour of New England Malls with a bratty 16 year old playing Dorothy, chaperoned by her overbearing Staten Island parents. She spent her time off stage screech-singing Cosette’s part in Les Miserables. One mall in Rhode Island had even booked 1989’s Miss America to play Dorothy for the day. That was rich. Having worked 7 months out of 12 that year, I was confounded to learn I had no gainful employment the other 5 months. Pick up work from an eccentric lesbian activist attorney turned LSAT tutor brought in some cash, but mostly I was broke. Still I looked to the heavens in my worst moments of despair for guidance, crossed the street to the Korean Quick Mart, and played the daily lottery. And I won! $537! I gazed up at the politely falling snowflakes and brushed the tears from my eyes.