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Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! It's Time to Stop the Show!

How Sneezy stole the spotlight at summer camp

By Rebecca MortonPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 5 min read
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Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! It's Time to Stop the Show!
Photo by jimmy desplanques on Unsplash

I hated summer day camp when I was a kid until one day when I was nine years old, the camp director announced that each age group would be creating, rehearsing, and presenting a play!

Each play had to be a famous fairy tale, to be performed in front of the whole camp and all the campers’ parents on the last day of camp. For me, it was like the sun came out from behind the clouds for the first time in weeks that Wisconsin summer of 1976.

Finally, we campers would be doing an activity that was in my lane!

It did not involve sports, swimming, boating, or making a fire! I grew up around theater people, as my dad was a director and playwright (and still is). I had been directing my younger sister, my neighbors, and my classmates in little plays for years by this time. I was so ready for this!

To my surprise, no one in my group objected to my taking charge of our production of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". I don’t remember why that fairy tale was chosen or who chose it, but it worked well for outdoor rehearsals. The few trees there could be the woods where Snow White ran to and found the Dwarves’ cottage.

By Robert Collins on Unsplash

I took the part of Sneezy the Dwarf because no one else wanted it, but I didn’t care about that. I was basically directing this production. Because we had trees and no mines, we changed the Dwarves’ jobs to woodcutters instead of miners. I don’t remember if that was my idea.

Sometimes, we Dwarves spent our entire rehearsal time pretending to chop down trees while singing the “Heigh Ho” song from the Disney movie version. All I had to do as Sneezy was remember to sneeze occasionally.

I have no memory of any adult camp counselors involved with rehearsals. I think they must have all gone away for a smoke break. This was the 1970s after all. Or, they could have been around but I just wasn’t focused on them. This was my production.

We camper girls and boys figured out the blocking by consensus, but I made sure we did it the same way for every rehearsal. I made sure the Snow White girl knew when and where to enter the Dwarves’ cottage, how to look around and what to say about how messy their house was.

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Before I knew it, it was performance time. Everyone’s family filled the seats in front of the outdoor stage. I don’t remember any of the other fairy tales performed that evening, except the one my sister was in. It was "The Wizard of Oz", and my sister was the Tin Man.

She looked ridiculous with sheets of aluminum foil pinned all over her shirt and pants and a foil cap on her head. She wielded a cardboard ax and said she had no heart. This was hilarious! Our “Snow White” would outshine this in so many ways!

My next memory is waiting beside the stage to go on as Sneezy. I think I wore a wool cap, solid color tee shirt, and shorts, which was the required Dwarf costume. Snow White did all the right things up to and including exploring the Dwarf cottage. She went into the “bedroom” and pretended to go to sleep.

By Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash

Now it was time for the Seven Dwarves to enter the cottage. We all had some lines to say which we rehearsed all week. One of us would remark how the floor was clean. Another would ask where the dirty dishes went. One would state that the bedroom door was open.

Only none of this happened this time.

Not one dwarf said a line we rehearsed. Some went into spontaneous disco dance moves. Others began singing silly radio hit songs of the time. Others laughed and jumped around, waving at the audience. I was beside myself.

I’m not sure, but I think a Dwarf conga line started around the table and absolutely no dwarf acting happened around me as I tried to stay in character. But no amount of sneezing could bring the other dwarves back on task.

“Hey!” I heard myself shout. “This is not what we’re supposed to do! We’re supposed to say our lines and go to the bedroom, remember? Why isn’t anyone doing what we did in rehearsal? Why aren’t you saying your lines?”

By Craig McLachlan on Unsplash

Yes. I stopped the show. The Dwarves got silent. They all stared at me. I told them what to do again, but they looked at me like I spoke a language different from theirs.

I don’t recall how we ended this scene, or any of the rest of the play. It’s all a blur.

The next thing I remember is riding in the backseat of my family car, my sister glaring at me and my parents lecturing me. I seem to recall someone saying it wasn’t that important and I shouldn’t have gotten upset or stopped the show.

But the show had already stopped. It dawned on me, standing there as Sneezy, that it had all been a joke to the other Dwarves from the beginning. They saw it as a hoot, a fun time to goof off in front of their families. It was a party, not a performance.

I knew then I wasn’t like most kids my age. I was Charlie Brown trying to direct the Christmas show when all the other kids just wanted to dance to Shroeder’s piano music.

Good grief.

____________________________________________________

My above bit of memoir was originally published on Medium.com.

You can find me at Medium here: https://medium.com/@becklesjm

Childhood
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About the Creator

Rebecca Morton

An older Gen X-er, my childhood was surrounded by theatre people. My adulthood has been surrounded by children, first my students, then my own, and now more students! You can also find me on Medium here: https://medium.com/@becklesjm

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