The $20 Road Show

“The $20 Road Show,” New Era, Jan. 1986, 29

The $20 Road Show

The assignment to the Huntsville Second Ward road show committee was a challenging one: In just a few weeks, put on a great road show. And don’t spend a lot of money doing it.

“Our total budget consisted of $20 to $30,” said Becky Worthington, who was called as ward road show specialist.

It seemed like an impossible assignment. Costumes can cost a lot. Lumber and hardware for sets can cost a lot. Even tempera for painting cardboard can cost a lot. Some wards spend $30 or more just for a cast party.

“But we knew that if the youth of the ward got involved, they could make it work,” Sister Worthington said. She called a meeting to discuss the road show theme, “Future Fantasy.”

Someone suggested that the story take place in a city underneath the sea, and the idea caught on quickly.

“We could use strips of old sheets to look like waves.”

“At the space museum they’ve got a light that shines through water so you see waves projected on the wall. Maybe we could do that.”

“You could have a sea horse and an octopus.”

“We still need a plot. What’s the conflict?”

“How about pollution?”

“You could wear slime suits or something like that.”

“Here comes the slime! You could run off all the Primary kids with that.”

Sister Worthington had to whistle to get everyone to stop talking and pay attention.

“Okay. We’ve got some good ideas for the script. We know who the characters will be. Now let’s talk about costumes. We’ve only got $20 to spend.”

After more discussion, the group dismissed. But based on their ideas, costume making began right away. And by the time the script was finished and rehearsals were underway, costumes were ready. A Chicken of the Sea wore scuba fins, goggles, and a beak made of cardboard. Starfish dressed like movie stars and carried sunglasses with paper stars pasted on them. Girls with cardboard oyster shell hats carried white balloons for pearls. Cast members dressed like cowboys rode brooms with poster board sea horses taped on them. A fish net and some shells, borrowed from members who used to live in Hawaii, were pinned to curtains as a backdrop.

But perhaps most ingenious of all were the octopus costumes, made from black plastic trash bags and paper egg cartons.

“Everyone helped out and donated paper, fabric, paint, tape, and time,” Sister Worthington said. “But mostly the costumes were made out of things we had on hand. We tried to keep it simple. You can do a lot with a little if you think and plan.”

When the stake road shows were presented, the Second Ward won a superior rating, an award for best actor, and the award for best costumes as well. And the price tag? Just 23 dollars and 50 cents.