Tom Massmann has fewer than 30 seconds to transform from a snooty, high-class gentleman to a greasy, tattooed slob. And that's only one of seven rapid costume and character changes the actor undergoes while playing eight different waiters in 100 Lunches: A Gourmet Comedy.
"I would run for the door if one of these guys ever served me," says Massmann. "They are all pretty colorful and difficult to deal with. It's satirically exaggerated to the nth degree."
The comedy, written by Jack Sharkey and Leo Sears, explores the relationship between a successful playwright, Chuck Reynolds, and his harshest critic, Charity Starr. When she comes to him for help with her own play, he makes her foot the bill as they dine at 100 of the most expensive restaurants in New York City.
The Impossible Players, a 44-year-old Pueblo-based community theater group, will stage its second production of the play this month, with Massmann reprising his roles from the original show 11 years ago. This marks the actor's 18th appearance with the Players, or "Imps," and he says that he considers himself lucky to have the opportunity to play this part again.
"It's difficult to completely shift gears and get in the mindset of the next [waiter], all while changing costumes and props, too," he says. "It's easily my most challenging role. But it's the funniest show I've ever been in. Even the second time around."
Also returning for another helping of 100 Lunches is director Marvin Hays, who was the assistant director of the original Impossible Players production. He says the ever-changing server is the character that makes the show.
"All the waiters are supposed to be related — cousins and bothers — so that's part of the shtick there," Hays says. "For a comedic actor, it's a role to sink your teeth into because you get to play so many different characters. It's definitely a role of a lifetime."
The cast also includes first-time actors, a middle school student and other Impossible Players veterans.
"Once you enter that door, whether you've auditioned or helped out on stage or behind stage, you're family," Hays says. "None of us get paid for what we do, but we have the best time doing it.
"No one has these huge aspirations to become a movie star or anything like that. We know we're in Pueblo and that is about as big as we're going to get. But we love it."
Hays says the group tends to select more lighthearted shows, and is filling this season with farces and feel-good endings.
"The reason we picked [100 Lunches] again is because it's just a really funny show," he says. "With live theater you usually want people to walk away feeling good."
The show was the smash-hit of the Imps' season the first time around, and Massmann hopes that this staging will repeat that success. He says regular Imps audience members still approach him about his role in the original production.
"It's a huge undertaking," he says. "But I love doing it again. I have a hard time keeping a straight face through most of it."