I once performed in a Christmas show. Well, really I’ve done lots of Christmas shows, but this was the campiest by far. The show was written specifically for one time use by this theatre. It was a story about how home is the most important place on Christmas. It was filled with all the standard Christmas songs, lots of happiness, and love. It snowed at the end, and Santa saved the day. Everything you need in a home grown Christmas show. Unfortunately, the set was cursed. And not even the whole set, just the bus that my poor, sweet husband had to drive to and from “the big city” while our little girl heroine learned the meaning of Christmas.
The bus was on a track, meaning that a “knife” was thrust into a “dog,” and then you dragged the whole thing across the stage. What moving a wooden bus has to do with a dog and a knife, I will never understand. One day, my husband was driving the bus into an invisible snow bank so Santa could save the day. As the bus stopped, poor, sweet, bus-driving husband pulled the wooden steering wheel off the wooden dashboard. Rather than set it down and continue with the scene pretending nothing had happened, he decided to carry the steering wheel with him for the rest of the scene and pretend to push the bus off the stage, which was logical, since the bus could no longer be steered. We all laughed at the silly set and my sillier husband, assuming that the worst was over. But… not so.
Later in the run, the vicious “knife” decided to twist in the “dog.” The bus stopped in its twisted tracks. It couldn’t go forward or back. The wooden bus was stranded center stage. My husband had no choice but to get out of the bus. There was no way to comically push it off the stage. As the lights began to fade, my husband made for the mini turntable stage left. It was really only big enough for the Christmas tree reveal, but my husband jumped up there ready to ride the turntable off the stage, leaving the broken bus for the Stage Manager to deal with. But he didn’t know which way the turntable rotated. He took one step in the wrong direction, hit his head on the wall, and was turned stumbling off the stage.
The “dog” never recovered from the stabbing, and my husband never recovered from his stint as an onstage bus driver. But the show went on, and our little heroine got to have Christmas at home. So, if you do travel by wooden bus this winter, watch out for incompetent bus drivers, and remember if it looks like an invisible snow bank will keep you from getting home, never fear: Santa will save you!