Peanuts and Plays: A look into the past

Submitted by Alena Pfrang, WHS student correspondent.

Sometimes the entertainment for my family consists of listening to my father, David Pfrang from the class of 1970, tell stories about his good ol’ days in high school. One such story involves a school play and peanuts.

It was his junior year in high school. He remembers having a junior/senior play production in the old city hall. Pfrang and the other non-drama students were “required” by the teachers to be ushers. If they didn’t, they would risk flunking the class. (My dad would do anything to pass English!)

“One night during one of the rehearsals while us ‘flunkies’ were working on props, the hero of the play, Bob Campbell, showed up late. He had been repairing some equipment or something, and he came in tired, dirty and grimy. The producer was our English teacher, and he was mean! When the teacher saw Bob come in late, the teacher was in his face just chewing him out. It didn’t take long before Bob couldn’t take it anymore, and he went after the teacher, threw him up against the wall and shook him like a dog shakes a rat! Then Bob just dropped the teacher and left. The teacher got up… straightened his clothes… and said, ‘You all just witnessed a guy make an a** out of himself!’ (referring to himself),” Pfrang said.

“Anyway, as one of the ushers it was my job to make sure people didn’t bring in any food. I still remember seeing some of the chunkiest people come in, so we checked them for food. Well, they were bringing in bags and bags of peanuts! We just smiled and let them in. I will mention that if anyone bought a bag of peanuts, they were privileged to be able to sit in a special roped off section called, ‘The Peanut Gallery’, which was dead center in front of the stage,” Pfrang said.

To this day, Pfrang doesn’t know if the peanuts sold were for eating or for throwing at the villain in the play. It didn’t really matter, because they were all used as ammunition against the actors! Pfrang continues, “The high schoolers soon started throwing peanuts at anyone who moved, including us ushers. We had our sacks of peanuts and had to sell them to the audience. (Actually, I think we gave away more than we sold, despite the teacher telling us to keep our bags full saying that we made most of our profit from selling peanuts.)”

According to Pfrang, it was usually the villain who got pelted with the most by the peanuts. There was this one exception.

“No mercy was shown to any of the actors. I remember you could hardly hear the lines in the play because there were so many peanuts hitting the floor, making a crackling noise! One of the actors, the villain, even had a peanut land in his mouth while he was talking. I remember he spit it out then shook his fist at the audience. That was a crowd pleaser. Then the peanuts really started flying!” Pfrang recalls.

“I still remember the teacher’s reaction to the play after it was over. It was not good. He was mad! He told us ushers to line up against the wall, and then he started chewing us out, one by one. He went nuts over the peanuts!” Pfrang said. “‘This was not a play. It was just a peanut free-for-all!’ he said. Then we had to clean up the mess — not with a broom. We had to pick up those peanuts one by one! And that was the end of the Peanut Gallery.”


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