Your archival picture of a female vocal ensemble in the October issue unlocked memories from the four (all male) Triangle shows in which I participated (1953-56). In those times, the show had an extensive tour schedule over the December scholastic break. This involved traveling by Pullman cars (2), box cars for the sets and musical instruments, and sometimes a lounge car provided by an alum. The tours went as far as New Orleans or Tulsa and included many cities in the Midwest, South, and Northeast.

I have many fond memories of my four years with the show, all while occupying the orchestra pit with 15 to 17 fellow undergraduates (which was pretty much the usual complement of a Broadway pit orchestras of the time). Of perhaps 100 shows performed over this time period, one evening stands out in particular. 

The troupe was playing the Eighth Street Theater, in the Chicago Loop. I was conducting. We had just played the entr’acte following intermission, at the end of which the curtain rises for the second act. That didn’t happen. So, we played the entr’acte a second time with the same awkward result. With no knowledge of what was happening backstage, we vamped a short segment that normally started the action on stage. It did not. So we began to alter the tempo and/or rhythm of the vamp with each repetition (rumba, waltz, Samba, march, jazz idiom, and as many others as anybody in the orchestra could conger up). As you can imagine, the rhythm section, led by pianist and orchestrator Peter Blue ’57, was pivotal in this unrehearsed and rapidly changing score. By this time, the audience was on to the orchestra’s predicament and solution. Finally, our undergraduate business manager, Warren (“Horsey”) Zweiback ’57 stepped out from behind the still-closed curtain and apprised the audience (and orchestra) of the technical issue involved. The audience responded with even more enthusiasm as the orchestra then proceeded to reprise the first act songs until the problem was solved and the show went on, as it must.

To my recollection, the next morning’s local press coverage had more to do with the glitch than the glamour. The lesson to be learned is that “stuff happens” during live theater. And what is obvious from your October “From the Archives” photo is that theater is more fun (and better) with the women on board.

Bob Mulcare ’57
Greenwich, Conn.