Once upon a time, not long ago, I worked in a magical place.
I would walk in the door and the candle-esque lighting would make all my skin issues vanish. The red carpeting and jazz music would relax me after my commute, shoving through the crowds of Times Square. I’d walk up the staircase, resisting the impulse to scare the people rounding the corner. descending in the opposite direction.
At the top of stairs I’d be greeted by the familiar row of skeletons and then but my co-workers who might double take and then say “Oh hellooooo!” in a uniform high-pitched warble. On my way to clock in, I’d see a kid gawking at Pharaoh Carcassotep, the resident Egyptian mummy, and bite my tongue to keep from saying something cheeky. After clocking in, I’d head to the dressing room.
That’d be the last anyone saw of me for hours.
Oh sure, you’d recognize the being who emerged from the dressing room garbed in read and black lace. But you’d hear her far before you saw her. Piercing shrieks and lilting, deafening trills constantly plummeted from her well rouged lips always with a slight British sophistication. She was a banshee after all, what else would you expect?
Well, technically half banshee. Mama was a banshee and papa was a strange little man with an affinity for banshees. Which makes me half undead. I know, it’s dreadfully complicated, I don’t want to bore you to tears with details, dahling!
I had the privilege of being an actor at The Jekyll and Hyde Club in Times Square for the whole two years it was open. I would say theme restaurant, Prunella (my character) would say Dr. Jekyll’s incredibly exclusive social club for mad scientists and explorers. It was a wonderfully unique place where actors play creepy and kooky characters would run around interacting with restaurant goers. The “artifacts” on the wall were all animatronics that would pop to life and talk to you. See that elephant way in the back? He could wave his trunk around. The Sphinx statue could see your future. The mummy I mentioned in the beginning was likely to curse you. A cranky gargoyle, a two-headed girl, a singing werewolf- they were all part of the decor.
One of Dr. Jekyll’s associates was experimenting on reanimation of the dead and he’d show you his progress made in his experiments with a “Frankenstein Show” every hour. It feels weird to call it a show. I’ve only ever spoken about it as a very serious, madly controversial scientific experiment before.
Here, you can watch someone’s entirely unprofessional filming of the show on Youtube, if you’d like! I’m not in it but my awesome friend Scott is:
So maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been speaking in past tense…. Perhaps you’ve guessed why?
At the end of March, The Jekyll and Hyde Club lost their lease. Abruptly, with so little warning the whole cast was left stunned, they closed their doors for good.
Oh, I’ve mostly recovered. But part of me will always miss being able to make children laugh by asking if I can bake them into a pie.
What, you didn’t know banshees baked children into pies? Well, that’s cause I totally made it up. You can’t imagine how fun it is to see the different reactions from children when their faced with the question. Looks of fear and worry from the little ones still grappling with real vs pretend. I can’t remember ever failing to dissolve that fear into laughter and joy. Maybe I just blocked them out. Still, it was a challenge I created for myself and I’m pretty proud of how successful I was.
Part of me misses my steady acting gig. No matter how many rejections I got, no matter what promising projects dissolved, The Jekyll and Hyde Club was always there. Entertaining people, it’s my passion, one I knew would be fulfilled whenever I walked in the door. It wasn’t just entertaining people, it was creative freedom. My interactions with people were entirely unscripted. I’d approach a table of tourists, find out they only spoke Hungarian, and take the challenge to make them all laugh, communication barrier be damned! Okay, my success rate there wasn’t quite as high as with the kids, but it still in the ball park.
Now I have all these jokes I’ll never use again! I got really good at setting up single ladies with the shrunken heads behind the bar! Completely useless skill now. Who will listen to my cautionary tale about the danger of dolls getting possessed by demons if you leave them lying around with out their clothes on?
I also miss the many romances I started at Jekyll and Hyde. Good times, fellas, good times.
Whatever! I won’t miss them! They’re all dead to me!
I will miss my amazing co-workers. You’ll never find more talented, creative, supportive bunch around. From actors to servers, from hosts to dishwashers. It was magical, guys, it really was. We all got together on the last night, for the last “Frankenstein Show” and it was completely insane, special, and just a touch sad. Fortunately, there are still karaoke nights in our future, I’m sure. I’m not as fun and outgoing as Prunella, but I’m also not as obnoxious and creepy! Yay!