A long standing Bay Area icon, the Gaslighter Theatre, has gone the way of the Dodo bird. I spent more than five years at that theater: singing, dancing, fake tap dancing, overacting, sewing, painting, serving beer, spilling beer, ripping costumes, losing costumes, losing wigs, losing props, doing magic and banging on the tamborine. The Gaslighter was in its last home on Campbell Avenue in downtown Campbell California for 37 years, and it passed quietly out of existence. That is certainly the only thing that the Gaslighter ever did quietly! This lovely little theater, that has housed melodrama, vaudeville, magic shows, rock bands, blues bands, political parties and educational speakers, filling a niche the Bay Area desperately needed. Children and adults of all ages have been entertained in this little building for 37 years.
With the earlier loss of the Opry House in Almaden, and now Big Lil's on "hiatus", we melodramatic types have lost our last venue in the Bay Area. Gone are the days where you can boo the villian (dressed entirely in black, from the top of his hat to the tip of his pointy shoes) and cheer the hero (strong of arm, but a little dense in the head). No more popcorn to eat or throw. No more audience numbers. No more lobby songs to thank the audience with on their way out. No more Gaslighter Rag.
A Campbell city representative was overheard saying of the passing of
the Gaslighter, simply: "Businesses come and go." This was not just a
business, it was a life for so many of us in times when we needed it
more than anything else in the world.
I will miss the 8-20 costume changes over an hour long Vaudeville review. I will miss talking to my fellow cast members while sitting on those little wobbly, fishnet stocking eating stools putting on our makeup in that cramped and slightly musty dressing room. I will miss emergency costume repairs. I will miss performing in a show I've never seen before, and certainly never attended a rehearsal for. I will miss doing audience interactive theater, where each audience makes the show an entirely different experience. I will miss set pieces falling over. I will miss missing props and missing cues. I will miss the blue eye shadow and all the glitter. Most of all I will miss performing with some of the best actors to ever trod the boards in live theatre. I will miss it all. Goodbye Gaslighter.
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