First Theatre Engagement

Here is a photo of Vaughn while we played at the Paramount theater in 1940. We had played a ballroom the night before we opened and arrived at the theater at or about two am for a rehearsal on stage for lighting and sound adjustments. We were there for almost two hours and had just about enough time to go to the hotel, change clothes and ready to play the opening show at ten am. What an exciting and memorable event that was!

On the morning of the first show, no one ever mentioned we had to wear makeup on stage, consequently after the first show, the stage manager came up to us and told us we looked like a bunch of ghosts (as white as snow). Much to our embarrassment,  we had to go out and buy pancake make up and made sure we had it on for the next show. The stage lights were so bright, we couldn't even see the music on our music stands, let alone worry how white we appeared.

The band was situated on an elevator type stage and as soon as the theme song started, the stage started to lift up and  there we were right in front of a roaring audience that practically deafened our ears, the goose bumps almost threatened our ability to play.  Although we were very tired,  not having slept the night before, we certainly enjoyed our first public appearance and played the first show without a hitch.

Most of us got some shut eye between shows and were able to finish  the day okay. We played the last show at nine pm; the show lasted for about one hour.  After having a bite to eat I went back to the hotel and just collapsed. It took a few days to recuperate from the first day marathon, after which it was smooth sailing. Vaughn, as usual, retained his composure throughout our stay and did a tremendous job as Master of Ceremonies introducing the other entertainers and singing up a storm.

There you go, a play by play description of the first theater engagement.

Submitted by: Ben Wastaferro (Benny West)