Sometimes, my life parallels the lives of the characters in my books in mysterious ways. In the fifth Threadville Mystery, SEVEN THREADLY SINS, my protagonist, Willow, models in a charity fundraiser fashion show. I’d already written the manuscript when I joined an Improv group. They asked me to participate in a fundraiser, a murder mystery dinner theater play. . .
Here are excerpts from Willow’s runway stint in SEVEN THREADLY SINS, along with the true story of me acting the part of a rather nasty but slightly clueless old lady.
Willow Vanderling in SEVEN THREADLY SINS: I sashayed out onto the runway with an exaggerated sway of hips, turned, started back, and looked saucily over my shoulder.
Janet Bolin in her acting debut: I stood behind another actor, waiting for our cue to go on. I was both excited and nervous. Speaking her first line, the other actor tripped out onto the stage. I followed, pirouetted to make my character’s admiration of the set obvious, and responded.
Willow: I was supposed to gracefully drop a chunky faux gold chain over my head and shrug out of the jacket to reveal the sleeveless dress. I hadn’t anticipated wrestling with the necklace, the jacket, and a cardboard briefcase at the same time, and my dropping and shrugging were anything but graceful. Finally, I unsnagged the chain from my hairdo and subdued the jacket.
Janet: I wasn’t supposed to wear my glasses. Partway through the first scene, I realized I had them on. I removed them (gracefully!) but then had to figure out how to keep them unscratched. My character had a purse, but it was for carrying the pie server and the rock . . .
Willow: she . . . unpinned what was left of my glamorous hairdo after the “gold” chain had pulled tendrils from it, and arranged my hair in two ponytails, one above each ear. Glancing into the full-length mirror near the stage curtains, I mistook myself for a two-year-old in a fun house mirror, the kind that stretched one to a ridiculous height.
Janet: I didn’t find a wig that suited my dotty character. Instead, I put my hair in pin curls (strange talents can survive years of disuse.) I planned to comb the curls out before the play, but the pin curls looked so funny that I asked the director if I should leave them in. We finally decided that I would take the bobby pins out, but I wouldn’t comb my hair. The curls became springs all over my head. Yes, it was ridiculous. But so was the character I was playing, and the jouncing curls reminded me to stop grinning like myself (the other actors kept making me laugh) and to frown like my character . . .
Willow: This was supposed to be a cocktail dress. It was, to say the least, a very unusual cocktail dress. Following the sketch and instructions that Antonio had given me, I had concocted a tiered, ruffled, balloon-like mini-dress from white and baby blue organza, with tiny flowers machine-embroidered at the edges of the ruffles.
Janet: It was my character’s big day. She wanted to dress up, all in lime green. A friend found the perfect, though outsized, jacket in a used clothing store. I made a matching full-length, elastic-waisted satin skirt, and pulled them both over the outfit I’d worn in earlier scenes. (In theater, aren’t you supposed to be larger than life?) My character insisted on wearing her comfy lime green sneakers with her dressy outfit. I obeyed her.
When she’s not reading, writing, playing with her embroidery and sewing machine, or hanging out with people who make her laugh, Janet Bolin walks her dogs near Lake Erie.
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