The Story of
Waldo the Wonder Rat
Remember what happened
the LAST Time it rained THIS MUCH..
... a Smee and Blog Blog...
FROM THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES
of the Texas Renaissance Festival....
The Story of Waldo the Wonder Rat
In the fall of 1984 it rained every single weekend at the Texas Renaissance Festival. It rained upon the newly built shoppe of the Wee Peeple Dolls and it rained upon the Rose and Crown Pottery next door and it rained upon the gun shoppe and the wooden-headed clown guys and it rained upon the stages where soaking wet entertainers played to only a very few soaking wet patrons.
The craftspeople were standing outside their shoppes most of the time, not selling anything, not making any money, and the mud and gloom and boredom threatened to consume us all.
To make matters worse, on the stage nearby, the shows kept going on and on and on, each hour on the hour. The craftspeople in our neighborhood, standing miserably in a row in front of our shoppes, could hear clearly every line of the Singing Executioners Show on the Player's Podium Stage, and soon every craftsperson on the sidelines had memorized every line of the Singing Executioners Show, and by the sixth weekend, any one of us could have stood in for either of the Singing Executioners, we knew their show so well.
So one day we were standing out front in the straw- (they put straw down in those days before the sidewalks were built to absorb some of the mud), and listening to the Singing Executioner Show literally for the 80th time, when my sly and mischievous neighbor, Lord Ashford, pointed out to me a flaw in the show.
There was a scene where the Singing Executioners were calling to backstage for a certain Waldo the Wonder Rat to come forth and present himself, and so Smee and Blog, the Executioners, take a dramatic stance and go
"TA DA! Waldo the WONDER RAT!"
and nothing happens. So they take another introductory stance, arms outstretched toward backstage, and shout out loudly:
"TA DA! WALDO THE WONDER RAT! "
and Waldo doesn't show. They do it a third time TA DA! and the obstinate rat still doesn't appear, so the Singing Executioners make some feeble excuse to the audience for Waldo's reticence, and go on with their show.
So now Lord Ashford turns to me with a devilish grin and a twinkling blue eye and suggests,
"What would happen if Waldo the Wonder Rat DID appear when they called him out?"
I nodded and laughed.
Lord Ashford then says to me- "You know- you are a Dollmaker- you could make a Waldo the Wonder Rat- in fact, I will commission you to make a Waldo the Wonder Rat, and we'll take him backstage and throw him out onto the stage when they go
We both began to grin madly.
(you see what boredom can lead to...)
So it was done. I went home and made a large fat Waldo the Wonder Rat, complete with a cape and a big "W" on his shirt. He was about two and a half feet long from head to tail, he had a black mask over his eyes, and weighed about four pounds.
Out in front of our shoppes we huddled, and, in a rather cloak-and-dagger manner, I unwrapped and presented
Waldo, the Wonder Rat
to the Lord Ashford, which soon caused shockwaves of delight to ricochet throughout our little neighborhood. Our whole miserable group became positively giddy over the plot to throw Waldo onstage, bonding over the Secret of the Stuffed Rat.
Finally we were ready. We got the word it was time to go.
Lord Ashford got out of his costume and put on street clothes. He carried Waldo the Wonder Rat in a plain brown shopping bag. He moved to the back side of the stage wearing a baseball cap, so as to blend in with the crowd, and there was actually a bit of a crowd that day. I was one of the three people stationed in the audience with a camera. Another one of our group was stationed at the opposite end of the stage.
The Singing Executioners had no idea what was coming. Nobody had leaked any information to them.
Just as they had done hundreds of times before, they posed up with arms outstretched and shouted,
"TA-DA! WALDO THE WONDER RAT!"
But this time Waldo the Wonder Rat came flying out from backstage, with our whole neighborhood grinning madly along the sidelines. Three of us stood up simultaneously from the audience and snapped pictures of the airborne rat and the surprised looks on their faces. Waldo landed on the stage at their feet, and of course the audience thought this was part of the show, but we knew it wasn't.
And the Singing Executioners knew it wasn't, also.
I have to give them credit. A good stage performer knows how and when to improvise, and this was most assuredly the time and place for it.
One of the Executioners picked up our Waldo by the tail and threw him offstage into the audience, contemptuously crying that this was not the real Waldo but an imposter, whereupon one of our guys stationed at that end of the stage grabbed him up.
Lord Ashford circled around and got Waldo back into the brown paper shopping bag and took off for the front gate.
Those of us who were in the audience snuck away before the show was over and went back to our shoppes where we proceeded to act like nothing had happened at all. We heard, though, that after the show was over the Singing Executioners came looking for the ones who played the prank on them.
Lord Ashford had just casually walked towards the front gate with Waldo in the bag and circled back behind the shoppes and in through his own back door. He was at his own counter selling pottery when they came around asking questions, and they never even suspected the sweet Lady Kandra of deviating from dollmaking far enough to make a stuffed rat!
The Singing Executioners never found out on their own who did it.
But, in 2004, twenty years later, they made a guest appearance at Scarborough Faire, where both Lord Ashford and the Lady Kandra were shopkeepers...
and on that day Lord Ashford told them what we had done.
They didn't kill him. But they did want to see Waldo, so Lord Ashford brought old Waldo the Wonder Rat to the festival and introduced him to them properly.
Here is a picture of their moment of re-uniting...
Kandra Niagra, Dollmaker
PO Box 326
Smithville, Texas 78957
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