A good friend of mine is producing a Christmas Cantata for a large church where he lives. It's the type that is full of actors and animals and resounding music, a lavish production. I called him on the set earlier this week to see how it was going. Usually a happy person, he sounded more reserved than I ever remember him being.
"How's it going?"
"Um. Okay. " I could almost hear him rubbing his forehead through the phone. "Its been a long day."
"Really? You love this stuff. Is everything okay?"
He sighed heavily. "Well, it'll work out. I'm just having a problem with one of the actors."
I laughed. "Is he union?"
"Then I don't see what the problem is. Fire him. It can't be too hard to find another Angel or King of Orient or whatever."
He laughed now. "Hold on."
I heard yelling in the background. "AHHHH!"
"What happened? I didn't mean now. Is everything okay?"
An explosion of expletives. "He spit on me."
I couldn't believe it. "Are they paying you for this? You have to fire him now. He assaulted you."
"Don't laugh at me."
Of course when anyone tells you this, what is the first thing you do? Laugh, or course.
"The dang llama won't come out of the truck."
My laugh stopped at mid guffaw. I was dumbfounded.
He tried to explain. "The actor. It's a llama. He won't come out of his trailer."
"Did you try to lead him or sit on his back and click your heels?"
"It's not a horse it's a llama. And I tried to lead him and he just sat down. I am not going back in there. He spit on me. LLama spit is foul. The animal trainer is coming."
Never having been in this situation, or anything like it I was at a loss for words.
"Well, you handle your business. Let me know how that turns out." We hung up.

A brainstorm hit me and I called him back. "don't' you have one of those great big, horse-looking dogs? Why not fire the llama and dress up your dog as a llama? This is theater, right? And your dog takes direction. Most of the folks coming to see the llama anyway probably have never seen one, unless they are Michael Jackson fans. "
"I think I am going to wait for the trainer. Bye Nina." He hung up.


"I trust it worked out."
"It did. The trainer came and got the Llama out of the trailer. Turns out he wasn't feeling too well. He got out of his trailer and sat down. He refused to work. Like he is on a hunger strike or something."
"And they are sending up another llama."

Still later...

"How's the cantata coming?"
"Well, we will get there. The llama and the sheep sway to the music everytime the band starts up. Only I think they hear Green Day in their head or something. They have no rhythm. I don't know how much more of this I can take."
"You need to relax. Tell them to send you some animals with rythym. And there is always the dog..."
"Can you hold on a minute?"
I didn't want to abandon a friend in a crisis. I heard more yelling. "You okay?"
"LLama spit again. Sorry."
"I didn't know they did that. I thought camels did that."
He sighed. "No one told the llama. " He paused. "You want a llama for Christmas?"
I wondered if there was a right or wrong answer. I could think of a few things I would enjoy receiving for Christmas. A hunger-striking, spitting llama with no rhythm and a diva attitude was not one of them."Well, I'm not sure they make good coats."

He didn't call me back about the llama drama.

I promise you this is a true conversation.
Jingle! Jingle!


Anonymous said…
I don't think that is considered a "cantata". The ones I've seen only had the music. This certainly is a production. I hope he will get his or there, cause no one wants to be spit on by any animal.
Anonymous said…
contata, production, tomato,'s all xmas goodness i hope. i just think your friend should work on his footwork and dodge the llama spit.

Anonymous said…
I had a similar incident with a white-tailed deer some years back at a petting zoo. Hey deer can be divas too!!
If we could let's keep this on the DL. ASPCA and PETA may still have pending charges against me. I'm just trying to wait out the statue of limitations.

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