Voltaire’s footman

A year ago, I wrote about a strange coincidence that happened to me. It was connected with the Raleigh Little Theatre play that I was rehearsing for, which was a week away from its premiere.
The same thing seems to be happening again. I am in the cast of Candide, which opens next week. A few days ago, I was reading James Lileks’s daily Web column The Bleat, in which he wrote about watching a Charlie Chaplin film with his preschool-age daughter. Describing her response to a particular scene, Lileks wrote: “She had the exact same reaction I had – gasps and laughter in equal amount. You could show this movie to Voltaire or his footman and they’d have the same reaction.”
As it happens, in Candide I am Voltaire’s footman. What are the odds that Lileks would pick that particular example of a random historical spear-carrier during the brief moment in my life when I happen to be playing him on stage?
This isn’t the only odd coincidence I’ve experienced recently in connection with my theatrical avocation. A couple of days ago, I decided on a whim to see what Wikipedia had to say about NECCO Wafers. (It’s an obscure candy that I vaguely remember from my childhood, but haven’t seen for a long time, and it occurred to me that I didn’t know who made them, what they were made of, or even if they still existed.) Wikipedia does, in fact, have an article about the Wafers, and another article about NECCO, the company that makes them. I learned that NECCO has three factories, one of which is in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
As I wrote here a few months ago, I was born in Thibodaux.
Out of curiosity, I followed the link to Wikipedia’s article about Thibodaux and skimmed through it. At the bottom were links to the Web sites for Thibodaux’s city government and its Chamber of Commerce. Reading the Discover Thibodaux page on the city’s site, I learned that my birthplace has a community theatre called the Thibodaux Playhouse, which seemed remarkable for a town of less than 15,000 people. I figured the Playhouse probably had a Web site of its own, and one Google search later, I was looking at it.
Actually, I was staring at it in astonishment. The Thibodaux Playhouse is now rehearsing a play called The Spitfire Grill (a stage adaptation of the 1996 movie). Auditions were held a few weeks ago, and the show will open at the end of July. I am quite familiar with The Spitfire Grill, because we produced it at Raleigh Little Theatre earlier this season, and I worked on it as assistant stage manager.
Again, I have to ask: what are the odds of this kind of thing happening?
UPDATE (5 June 2006): There’s definitely some kind of cosmic conspiracy going on. I was just reading the five-minute parody version of “Logopolis”, the classic Doctor Who episode that this blog was named after, and it contains a NECCO Wafers reference!

2 thoughts on “Voltaire’s footman

  1. The coincidence of Lilek referring to Voltaire’s footman at this particular time in your life is astounding. He must have been reading “Candide” or had recently seen the play or DVD to bring it to mind. You ought to ask him.
    You’ll have to tell me why you were thinking of NECCO Wafers, of all things. I had not thought of them in years, but they used to be one of my favorite candies when I was a child and teenager. I had no idea that there was a factory in Thibodaux, though. Or a community theatre, though that’s not so surprising. Through your research, you know far more about your birthplace than we do, because we lived there so briefly and were mostly focused on our newborn son.

  2. Pat, It is amazing, but Thibodaux Playhouse is a terriffic little group here in Thibodaux. Houma has a little theatre too. Most productions here cater to the humerous simplicity of theare,but I’ve got the desire in me to do some Shakespeare. I may have to pull a few strings and get some staged. I’m from Houma myself, but I’m playing Percy in our production. I’m just a small town family woman with BIG dreams and an LSU degree. If you come this way, please check us out! Any connections will be appreciated!