Christmas was coming, and that meant show time. Finally, we were ready to debut Guard Dog in Concert, which was the very first of what was to become the Max, the Ho Hum Husky series. However, Max was not impressed by the fact that his puppet was going out on gigs and he was left at home. Having sat through rehearsals, practicing his bow and getting cookies as a reward, he felt like it was the world’s worst rip-off when we packed the trailer and took off without him.
Unfortunately, many of our gigs were not in venues where Max would be welcome. One was a Motorola Xmas party at the Burnaby Villa, and it was a good job we didn’t have the distraction of our dog with us, because we ended up having a terrible time with the sound system. It kept blowing fuses because there was a problem with the hotel wiring, and by the time we realized that we had to settle for our backup system, everyone’s nerves were frayed.
Another busy gig was a two-day engagement for the Brentwood preschool, where we performed for four different boisterous groups of three- and four-year olds. They were a highly enthusiastic audience, and the little ones were very sweet, patting the Max and Brandy puppets as if they were real dogs. Perish the thought of how the real Max would have reacted to being bopped on the head by thirty toddlers!
After all these gigs, we returned to our sulky pet who looked most put out at our long absence. However, the day came when he finally managed to get in on the act. We had been booked for a single-day gig at the Burnaby Village Museum. We were to perform in the small hall which was the basement of the Royal Bank building. It was the venue used by Footlight Theatre for their vaudeville shows, and it had a private backstage area with our own washrooms and small kitchen. Out the back door was access to an area where Max could have a short walk, so it was easy to have him on site.
Hugh and I went down in the morning to set up the theatre. Then we returned home for the girls, the puppets and Max. Max settled quite happily in our backstage area, though he became very excited when he recognized Edna’s voice coming from the audience area. Soon afterwards, my parents rolled in, followed by Carla and Ron, and Max was berserk with excitement to see so many of his favourite people in attendance. We managed to settle him down again, though he started to look anxious as the voices from the audience began to swell, particularly when future MLA, Harry Bloy, marched his boy-scout troop in and filled all the remaining seats.
The first show went well, and the audience was most responsive. They oohed and aahed most satisfactorily when the real Max appeared, and he managed a nice bow after much bouncing about looking excited and confused. However, when we went backstage, the poor baby climbed up onto our standing platform and lay down as if to say, “This is a familiar bit of home so I think I’ll sit here.”
By the second show, Max had lost his anxiety and decided he was Mr. Superstar. While we performed, he sat expectantly behind our standing box, but as we approached the finale, I became aware of a lot of laughter in the audience. Hugh and I blinked at each other, perplexed. Yes, we knew the show was funny, but we didn’t think it was that hilarious. Then, as we concluded the show and lowered the curtain, we turned to get Max’s leash and realized he wasn’t there. Anticipating the post-show adulation and cookie, he had snuck out front and was bounding up and down in front of the stage, doing his bow and socializing with the audience, all of whom were in convulsions. I couldn’t believe it. Talk about no business like show business. After all my years of opera and theatre training, I’d been upstaged by my dog![box]Little did we realize that twenty years later, we would still be performing at the Burnaby Village Museum. These days, we are booked for an eight-day gig, with eight short shows a day as opposed to two longer ones. How our Max would have loved being part of that![/box]
This Season at the Burnaby Village Museum
Max, the Ho Hum Husky Die Fledermaus, the Sequel
December 26-29, 2014 December 30, 2014 – January 2, 2015