Even though he is a seasoned veteran of the stage and screen, Eddie Mekka still feels the crunch of a four-day rehearsal window before he and the rest of the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show debut at The Fuge this weekend.
"We just started rehearsals yesterday," said Mekka. "Every actor has that nightmare of waking up the day of a big show and not knowing any of the lines. That's where I am right now. But we've got time, we'll get there and the show will be a lot of fun."
Before the start of the second night of rehearsals, Mekka made a stop at Menchie's Frozen Yogurt at Center Point Place to greet fans and sign autographs. His friendly greeting and affable nature instantly warmed up the crowd as they posed for pictures and handed yogurt cups and Laverne & Shirley DVDs for him to sign.
It was clear that Mekka's appearance at the frozen yougurt shop was a thrill for the older members of the crowd who remember his performance as Carmine Ragusa - AKA The Big Ragu - on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley. But Mekka was quick to point out to the younger customers who didn't recognize him that he had a guest role on an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody on the Disney Channel.
In fact, the end of Laverne & Shirley in 1983 certainly did not mean the end of Mekka's career. He went on to appear in films including A League of Their Own and Dreamgirls, television shows such as 24, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and ER, and numerous stage performances, most notably five productions of Fiddler on the Roof at the Bucks County Playhouse.
While visiting Menchie's Wednesday afternoon, Mekka revealed he just shot an episode of the cult comedy series Children's Hospital, a spoof of medical dramas that airs on the Adult Swim block of shows on the Cartoon Network. At one point in the episode, Mekka character shares a scene with Henry Winkler, who plays the hospital director.
"I play a mob guy, and as gratitude for the great care that Henry's character gave me, I make him a 'made guy,'" said Mekka. "I give him one of those 'welcome to the family' kisses, so at that point you got the Big Ragu giving the Fonz a kiss on television."
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is being produced by the Bucks County Playhouse and staged at The Fuge, an event space housed inside the building formerly used by NASA astronauts to train for Apollo and Mercury missions. There will be two shows each on Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and midnight. Tickets cost $30 at the door. Presale tickets are available online for $25 or $20 with a $10 donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.