Even without electricity, ‘Gold in the Hills’ plays

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

For the first time in more than 50 years, the lights went out Saturday night on “Gold in the Hills.” But the curtain didn’t come down.

“We opened one of the side doors to the theater to let some light in,” said William Matthews, who plays villain Richard Murgatroyd.

Power at Parkside Playhouse on Iowa Boulevard and much of the southwest part of the city, nearly 2,000 customers, was lost for several hours Saturday as Entergy experienced problems with a substation on Mulberry Street.

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On the stage, actors improvised.

Several even ad-libbed to refer to the dark, Matthews said.

“When I came in for the second act and asked Big Mike, who is played by Dr. Walter Johnston, the associate producer of the show, for a drink, I said, ‘Well, I see you haven’t been paying your light bill.’”

Johnston, a longtime “Gold” actor, said there were several times that the actors embellished the script to play to the power outage.

Mike Calnan, VTG secretary, was in charge of lighting for Saturday night’s show.

“The building lights were at about 50 percent illumination, and stage lights went out completely. The actors continued in the dark for around 10 minutes, until intermission and the audience was told the show would go on,” he said.