8:45 PM: Bowling for Barbies

News   8:45 PM: Bowling for Barbies Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham may be the stars of of Triumph of Love, but Thom Warren is the star of intermission.
The 'Bowling for Barbies' Barbies
The 'Bowling for Barbies' Barbies Photo by Photo credit: Starla Smith

Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham may be the stars of of Triumph of Love, but Thom Warren is the star of intermission.

Warren is bar manager of the Royale Theatre, and he takes his job seriously. When he learned that he'd be serving at Triumph, he familiarized himself with the script.

The bar guy?

"Sure. Different shows get different kinds of crowds. People always go for Absolut. We moved a lot of Absolut at The Life. But I looked at this play. It's based on a French classic. I figured that automatically eliminates a certain kind of crowd. So I told my supplier I'd need Tanqueray. They said 'Tanqueray?!?' I figured, we would get, you know, a more sophisticated crowd. Sure enough, we're moving Tanqueray."

How about opening nights? "Openings are crazy. You have people people in tuxes, nervous people. You try to stock more champagne. It;'s kiss kiss, hug hug. You get all these celebrities coming up and you have to figure: Do you comp? Say Liza Minnelli comes up to the bar. Do you comp her or not?" Well? "For Liza, yeah." The intermission was running very long. "We're ready, but they're not sitting down," says House Manager Bill Liberman.

After 23 minutes, Stage Manager Arturo Porazzi takes the house lights to half.

Just then, F. Murray Abraham walks up to Porazzi's desk with a sour look on his face. He slaps a golden ring down on the desk. "The whole first act," he intones, and walks off to take his place. He was wearing his wedding ring on stage the entire first act.

Porazzi gives the cue, and Act II begins.

During the first number of Act II, "Have a Little Faith," the tech crew of Triumph of Love plays a game called "Bowling for Barbies." Here's how it works:

Kevin Chamberlin, who plays a gardener, makes his entrance watering his plants. As he proceeds across the stage, we see more and more of the anachronistic long green hose he's using to do the job. The audience doesn't know it's really a long spring. Suddenly he has a chance to jump into the song, and, in a sight gag, he lets go of the hose, which snaps into the stage-right wing.

What the audience also doesn't see is that the stage hands have propped a phalanx of Barbie dolls on coat-hanger stands, in the wings. Each night, they try to predict how many Barbies the snapping hose will knock down.

"We were hoping you wouldn't notice those," Porazzi said when Playbill On-Line asked about the backstage Barbie collection.

The whole cast non-onstage cast gathers on opening night. Chamberlin releases the hose, it whangs backward. People jump out of the way, there's a gasp, a whispered, "Yes!" And two Barbies go down.

Awww. People shake their heads and shrug.

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