Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Other Theaters

There were three live theaters in Jackson Hole back in the seventies: Dirty Jack’s, The Pink Garter Theater, and The Jackson Playhouse. Dirty Jack’s was rather barn-like, but that contributed to the charm of the place. It seated about 400, with a rather large lobby in front. The floorboards creaked and it was decorated in ersatz Old West motif. It was like walking into a saloon in an old horse opera.

We were rather intimidated by the fancy-shmancy Pink Garter Theater. They had an actual curtain, for gawd sakes. In 1976 they did “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and I remember watching it early in the season and wondering if ANYONE would come see our show. It all seemed so crisp and glitzy.

The Jackson Playhouse, on the other hand, made us feel kind of superior, with its small, cramped theater and low-budget production. They put on a lowly revue that season rather than a real play, so we were a bit smug. Still, I remember being impressed with their players. Bad house, bad show, but talented cast.

The cast at the Pink Garter included two young women who were sisters. They danced in the chorus and had to wear costumes that were quite thin and clingy and did not allow for a bra. The sisters were Mormons and were unspeakably embarrassed that the outlines of their nipples showed through the costumes. So, they took to putting bandaids over their nipples to keep them from pressing against the thin fabric. Each night for the rest of the season they looked like they had these weird square nipples, with the contours of the small gauze pads on the bandaids clearly showing. It was kind of surreal.

My worries about drawing audiences to our show were wasted. We packed the place and got the best reviews in the local press. We partied with some of the guys from the other theaters, since we all got off work at about the same time and many of us headed for the rowdy bars. After a few weeks all the intimidation we felt abut the Pink Garter and the smugness we felt about the Playhouse were long gone. We all drank ourselves to oblivion and howled about that square nipple thing.