ZELDA WAGMORE EASED BACK into her director’s chair or, as the actors in the Tarboro, North Carolina local theatre group called it, “Zelda’s Throne.” The five foot, middle-aged women with hair dyed bright red and thick, round dark-rimmed glasses had somewhat of a reputation for her eccentric and authoritarian directing style. Ms. Wagmore had been taking the seat in her infamous chair for some twenty years, to direct the annual Tarboro Founder’s Day production of “Yesteryear Colonial Tarboro.”
“TAKE IT FROM THE TOP OF SCENE TWO,” she shouted out in her high-pitched voice. “This time I want to see George Washington convey a bit more ‘presidential’ character,” she said with a stabbing glance directed right at Howard Milsap.
Howard was the owner of the Milsap Funeral Home and he had been talked into playing the part of President George Washington in the play by his wife Gwendolyn who also just happened to be good friends with Zelda. Howard cleared his throat, puffed out his chest and again delivered his line, “Tarboro deserves as good a salute as could be given with one piece of artillery.”
“No, no, no, Howard. You must dig deep down. Consider what the president was feeling when he delivered the line, were his false teeth bothering him? What do you think he had for breakfast?” Zelda scolded.
Howard tilted his head down and looked over his reading glasses at his wife who was sitting next to Zelda with a pile of scripts on her lap and shot her an “I don’t want to be here” glare.
“That’s it, that’s it Howard, that is exactly what I’m looking for, give me that exact look and deliver the line again,” Zelda said while clasping her hands together in anticipation.