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Rampaging Rabid Rivets Redux

by Richard Harter

Certain parties, their names best left unmentioned lest the mere mention of said names might bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of the innocent reader, approached me with the request that I record for posterity my recollections of the NESFA productions of the Mark Keller/Sue Anderson musicals. Naturally I refused; anyone would, even those with the most minimal of scruples. (My scruples are far from minimal, though I must admit that I acquired them at a Kmart blue-light special from the Martha Stewart collection.) None-the-less I was persuaded to contribute by inducements of such a peculiar nature that my lawyer desperately urged me not to mention them in print.

For persons of such advanced seniority as myself the events of the past such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid strike, the sinking of the Bismark, the Krakatoa eruption, and the Nesfa musicals all tend to blur together in my memory. I shall make my best efforts to disentangle my memories of these great events even though my best efforts all too often end in abject failure.

The Nesfa musical madness began with a Boskone production of “Captain Future meets Gilbert and Sullivan”. This piece of fluff, excuse me, this distinguished light opera was NOT a Keller/Anderson piece; it dates from an earlier place and time. It had previously been successfully produced in LA; the aforesaid success leading certain Nesfans to believe that they too could produce and perform the aforesaid (I recently acquired a set of aforesaids at a Barnes and Noble remainder table sale – please forgive me whilst I use them up) light opera.

Yours truly played the role of the Master of the Universe, a role previously played by the late Bruce Pelz. Between us Bruce and I played the role with great evil and panache (Bruce did the evil panache and I did the “and”). As I recall my presence in the cast was a source of great pain to Morris Keesan who attempted to get the, you should excuse the expression, singers into tune and in sync with the musical accompaniment. Yours truly, it seems, has a rather metallic ear.

I do not know whether the production was a success from the perspective of the audience – in fact I don’t recall there being an audience after the first act – but it was a great success from the perspective of the cast. For years afterward cast members would spontaneously burst into song. Selina Lovett and I would greet each other with our “Sweet Little Asteroid” duet. Those were dark days in Nesfa.

The aforesaid success (patience – I only have one or two aforesaids left) created within Nesfa a hunger to do more musicals. Thus it was that they turned to Mark Keller and Sue Anderson who were only too willing to pander to this unnatural desire.

As I recall Nesfa put on three Keller/Anderson productions – “Back to Rivets”, “Rivets Redux, or, Whatever Happened to Helmuth of Boskone?”, and “The Decomposers”. I have to admit that I recall almost nothing of their plots. Suffice it to say that the aforesaid plots (there, I think that is the last aforesaid – whew) were outrageous.

The trio began “Back to Rivets”. In this one I played Richard Deadwood, a takeoff on Roger Elwood, a major editor of SF anthologies in the 70’s. At one point it seemed as though Elwood was going to be the Joe Fox of the SF world. This was another villain role – I’ve been typecast for decades. I don’t recall the details but I am sure that Richard Deadwood got the comeupance he so richly deserved.

In Rivets Redux I played the real Darth Vader and was promptly wiped out by Helmuth of Boskone, played by Tony Lewis. It was, I suppose, a bit part although a bit part, properly speaking, is one of Dracula’s victims in a vampire movie. I don’t know why I didn’t get a larger part. Perhaps my acting wasn’t forceful enough.

In the succeeding year Nesfa did “The Decomposers”, a parody of “The Producers”, which had as its finale a triumphal march to the strains of Springtime for Nesfa. The story line centered about a convention committee that was even more inept than is customary; the very day of the convention was upon them and the program did not even yet exist. This one I watched from a seat in the audience. For the most part it was corny but fun. The triumphal march with the Nesfa seal on banners held high wasquite striking.

This page was last updated February 7, 2003 and transcribed to the NESFA website on Aug 11, 2016.