A sneak peak at the Warm-Up act from The Hunt for Happiness:
With the curtain closed, Steve walks on stage to a spotlight. He’s dressed like Marty Feldman as Igor in Young Frankenstein with a mix of style from Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The curtain opens with a movie screen behind it; Steve steps up to the microphone and begins to speak.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Humans, Cats. This is the story of the journey from this …”
On the screen, Frankenstein’s monster in chains raging in anger is shown.
“To this …”
The image fades and brings up Mittens the cat, adorable, cute, main coon huge, tabby, pudgy, reaching out with both arms, eyes and mouth wide open. An epitome of joy and cuteness as he tries to capture Steve’s hand.
The movie screen fades to black.
“How do we make this transformation?”
A trombone begins to play Puttin’ on the Ritz off stage.
“By getting to know each other, that’s how! Now, let’s take a page from Ellen, let’s dance!”
The stage lights go up to reveal a grand piano and pianist, Lois – you’ll meet her later, a drum set with Jabar at the ready – you’ll meet him later too. Shirley is on Violin and Helga on Trombone, yes, yes, you’ll meet everyone later. Steve walks over to the electronic keyboard and they start playing Puttin’ on the Ritz.
On the screen, the Young Frankenstein scene of the monster and the mad scientist dancing is shown. In the foreground, the cats, Sheba, Suki, Chatnoir, Mittens, and Audrey dance in top hats with canes.
As the number ends, a mirror ball descends. In walks Sally, with her taps on, dressed like Hapshatt as the fancy ringmaster in the Timewarp dance, from Rocky Horror, sequins and all. Sean enters with chart and desk, ready to play the Criminologist Narrator from Rocky Horror. Electric guitars are added to the ensemble of musicians. Steve and Kathy play Riff Raff and Magenta. Sally sits on top of the juke box. We’re starting the scene at that point.
Steve comes forward and speaks. “In the show to come, we’ll be warping time to find the truth, to find out what it means to be happy. Maybe we’ll find some answers, maybe we’ll probe deeply into what it is to be human and what it is to be happy. Throughout, we mustn’t take ourselves so seriously that we don’t seize hold of happiness when it comes!”
All the characters, and a lot of extras, combine to recreate the Time Warp Dance from Rocky Horror, falling down on the stage at the end as in the movie. The curtain closes.
The spotlight picks up Chatnoir the cat, a jet black domestic short hair, walking on stage with a mouse in his mouth. He releases the mouse unharmed and it scurries off stage. He stands. “But wait, folks, there’s more!” he says. Then he runs offstage towards the mouse.
The lights go out.
Now we’re ready.
Ready for What?
In the musical Mame, our female protagonist, Mame, explains to her new charge, Patrick “Life’s a banquet and most poor SOBs are starving to death”. Doesn’t that ring true, at least a little bit? The musical is all about breaking down barriers between people and embracing the banquet of life.
The Hunt for Happiness is all about breaking down barriers between people too. And about embracing the banquet of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By the way, for me, when we get to that banquet, we’ll be in the Kingdom of God. Rules and restrictions don’t get us there say I, no, love gets us there if we dare love and suffer for that love.
But I’m not asking you to suffer through scholarly arguments in this book, as you can tell from the warm-up. It’s a play of sorts, a disjointed novel of sorts, a memoir of sorts, and weaves a path towards understanding why we are the way we are. I’ll have more on that in my next post.