In the following report, the names of the suspects are given according to the role they portray, in order to protect the (mostly) innocent.
The investigation began close to the scene of the crime on the stage right prop table. Franz, Captain Von Trapp’s butler, was well-known for his backstage pranks, but a quick glance at his personal props, a silver tray and elegant snifter, revealed nothing - nary a crumb; nary a drop. This time the actor could proclaim his complete innocence.
Perhaps Liesl’s love interest, Rolf, the youth swayed by Nazi propaganda, was responsible?
He seemed such a pleasant young man, well-thought of by his fellow actors and with a considerable talent. Could he have become consumed by his character – a victim of method acting? Rolf was prompt for the interview, professed his innocence and assured me of his complete cooperation. Had he seen anything out of the ordinary, I queried? “No” was the reply, “Nothing more than rather more nuns, novices and postulants backstage than usual. It’s hard to keep track of all that black and white femininity.”
While I conducted the investigation behind the scenes, Hedydd continued her rehearsal. Her voice didn’t sound quite as clear as it had initially. I pondered the likely cause. Dust from falling from the teasers**? An un-brushed habit? Something perhaps ingested?
I cornered the Stage Hands at The Stage Manager’s station. Usually fine, hard-working characters, Stage Hands do, at times, despair of actors’ histrionics and, occasionally, perpetrate, quite unprofessionally and certainly without sanction of The Stage Manager, a small revenge.
I could not believe it of these two, but I was compelled to interview all likely suspects dispassionately and without prejudice. Under the glare of the blue light, I interrogated them both. My inquiries revealed nothing. They both had been about the business of creating the magic in which the audience would marvel. “However”, remarked the Crew Chief, “I did observe a very diminutive nun behaving in quite an odd fashion”. “Yes”, recalled the other, “She seemed to be secreting something under her scapular***”.
Hedydd had ceased her warbling, and I assumed she has quit the stage and retreated to her dressing room. At the same moment, the Stage Hands pointed up-stage left, and I hurried behind the Abbey drop, suddenly knowing full well whom I would find there and what she had been about. I fully intended to take this puffed-up dolly down a peg or two. The noise of my wooden footsteps echoed across the stage and must have alerted the perpetrator. I heard the swish of long skirts and saw the swirl of black curtains. Dark velvet enveloped me. I spun inside the depths of the tormentors, barely clinging to consciousness.
To be continued....
** Teasers are the horizontal masking curtains.
***A Scapular is part of a nun’s habit, sleeveless outer garment that hangs from the shoulders.