I'm playing Ms. Darbus in a local production of "High School Musical."
I KNOW! REALLY?
It's a fundraiser to purchase new curtains for our High School stage. A fundraiser to prevent the drama program from going bankrupt this year, due to the unexpected outlay. (Thank you Mr. Fire Marshall.)
The point is, however, I never thought I'd play a character like Ms. Darbus. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to do it. To stretch my theatrical wings, if you will. And not that I've never dreamed of being in this musical — which I haven't — and not that it isn't actually going to be cute and full of silly joy and great songs — which it is — but, seriously? Me? As Darbus?
I've always played the ingenue on stage–the endearingly innocent, soprano-voiced little chickie-wickie who wins the heart of the hunky hero. Okay, okay. It's been like 15 years since I was young enough to play a chickie-wickie–and it was a pretty good stretch 15 years ago. But I never pictured myself being a character actress. I don't know why. I am a pretty major spaz. And I dearly LOVE being a spaz. So I guess it's time to let my inner-spaz out on stage.
I need you to help me out here. This is what I'm looking at. I see Darbus as kind of a cross between Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bookay") from "Keeping Up Appearances:
And Miss Jane from the Beverly Hillbillies:
Hmmm? Whaddaya think?
Darbus in the play is vastly more over the top than Darbus in the movie, and I love the two ladies from these clips. What a hoot they are to watch. I want my Darbus to be ridiculous, over the top, and loveable–the way Patricia Routledge and Nancy Kulp played their parts. And I think these actresses accomplished that by having real affection for Hyacinth and Miss Jane.
And seriously. How do you not love a character who says things like this:
"Yes, my brave little detention menagerie . . . "
"Save your bilabial fricatives for someone of your own primitive esthetic ."
"Be the ostrich!"
Yeah. I'm liking her already.