Opening night is coming up. The Fire Hall Theatre’s production of “Guys on Ice” opens Feb. 12 in Grand Forks. Foolishly enough perhaps, the theater people have asked me to be a part of it.
Without giving away too much, I’ll be in the “Guys on Ice” “halftime show.” I hope you’ll call (701) 777-4090 and support the Fire Hall Theatre by reserving a fistful of tickets. It runs weekends through Feb. 28.
Last year, I was one of about a dozen of the usual suspects from around town who were asked to die in the opening scene of “Dearly Departed” at the Fire Hall Theatre. Chuck Haga, UND President Robert Kelley and others gave their lives as well one night only.
But actually, my acting career may have peaked several years ago, when I appeared on an episode of the ABC soap opera “General Hospital.” The networks call them daytime dramas. Somewhere, there’s tape to prove it.
If you work for an ABC television station and you’re going to be in the Los Angeles area, as they say, sometimes the producers will have you written into their show. That’s what they did with me.
Angela Cary, WDAZ’s promotion director at the time, set it up. One day (while I was in the shower), “General Hospital’s” casting director called me at home. After a short, rather odd conversation with her on the phone, she said, “I’m looking at your head shot. I think we’ll make you the manager of an upscale, European casino.”
As instructed, I dragged a blue suit and a gray suit with me to California, only to learn at the last minute I’d be dressed by the show in a tuxedo.
The script arrived in Grand Forks after we’d left for the coast, so the writers a copy delivered by currier to our hotel (at some expense). I would have one line, four words. “Urgent call, Mr. Jax.”
My scene would be with Jasper “Jax” Jacks, the character played by hunky Australian actor Ingo Rademacher. (Ingo also came in fifth in the 16th season of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2012.)
Fairly long story short, arriving at the appointed hour, they “blocked” the (rather complicated) scene, rehearsed it once and shot it in one take.
Then, somebody told me to be sure to check in at the business office before leaving “or you won’t get paid.” I told them I didn’t expect to get paid, that I was doing it to show our news viewers what it’s like to be on a soap opera, I mean daytime drama. I was told “You don’t understand. You have to get paid. It’s a union thing.”
Back at home a few weeks later in the mail, I got a check with a full-color image of Mickey Mouse in the corner for $330 and change. Not bad at all for about an hour’s “work.” Ginny and I used the money to buy a set of bookcases. A couple weeks later, I got another “residual” check in the mail for something like $18. A couple weeks after that, another check arrived, for 50 cents, a little more than the postage. What’s more, about half of that amount had been taken out. Some of it went to the union. (I’m not making any of this up.)
I couldn’t bring myself to cash the check. Eventually, I framed it. But first, when tax season rolled around that year, I insisted that our tax guy declare it as income. He showed it to everybody in the office. They all agreed it was the smallest check any of them had ever seen.