Linton and Swinton and Michigan

In just a few days, Sue Ten will be home from her tour of the unknown universe, so I am scrambling to remember whatever it was that I promised to do in her absence. I did check in on her semi-comatose husband Logan every day, making sure that he was receiving just enough electrical charge from the room full of potato-clock batteries to keep a heartbeat going, and a social security check coming. I upgraded a few of the spuds that seemed to be going a little black and shady. I wonder if yams would work as well, or if they would just turn his dreams to orange? I don’t know.

By the way, right before Sue left on her trip, she’d been cast in a leading role of our local Little Theatre’s production of “Linton and Swinton and Michigan” an inspiring story of taking a wilderness and somehow turning it into a Village by the Sea. I just can’t seem to get the soundtrack out of my mind, can you? Maybe the reason I can’t get it out of my mind is because the Little Theatre has been rehearsing almost non-stop over at The Swing Barn, and it’s been that kind of SoFLA perfect weather where we do actually throw open our windows and doors.

I love this story of the hearty pioneers from Michigan heading to the Atlantic coastline to tame the swamp and rusticate on the miles of beach.

Just to the north of us, Mr. Flagler led the way, and he set the bar high. I love going to Palm Beach and visiting the mansion he built for his third wife, soon after coming to the realization that Wife Number Two was doubtless insane and would be much better off in an asylum. Yes, he must have been a rare and compassionate man to understand mental health so well. Wife Number Two was spared the stress of her husband’s private-train-car lifestyle, and The Mistress got a nice promotion. Everyone won.

But back to our musical. Let me tell you, the stage decor is quite impressive, and I think Sue will be ready to step right into her role as Vivienne Venitianne, the pineapple heiress who wins the heart of the Villagers with her mighty wit and repartee. And they, in turn, are there for her after the pineapple blight and the vagaries of the market force her to give up the high life and find true contentment as a Red-Cross certified lifeguard.

Now you may wonder how a musical comedy can be in production without its star, but that’s not really so hard to understand. The character Vivienne suffers from a peculiar inability to sing. She just plain freezes up, but not until she gets in a truly painful line or two, much to the general merriment of all, advancing the plot scene by scene as she does.

Perhaps coincidence, but Sue Ten won’t have to act out that part. She’s long been active in her work to celebrate the tone-deaf and the non-musical, and those of us who sing for joy, not for pleasure, are ever grateful for her openness to our afflictions.  This could be why we never get much of a crowd at The Swing Barn on Karaoke night, but shouldn’t every one have a chance? I for one have also ascribed to the motif: “Introverts with Microphones (A Dangerous Combination)”. But that’s another story.

My big surprise for Sue Ten is this: While she has been away, I’ve arranged through Prentiss to hire a crew of budding young filmmakers to film a documentary about the making of “Linton and Swinton and Michigan.”  They will be at the Tri-Rail Station on Thursday night, waiting to greet her with kleig lights shining. Granted, she will have been traveling for about 27 hours non-stop by then, but we want her to know we are on the scene, and we want her to know we care.

I may even make a pie.