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Mix Olive, Bitter Herbs, And Sausage, Sizzle And Serve On Local Stage

May 27, 2014

A local theater company is staging Olive and the Bitter Herbs. I was asked to do caricatures of the cast for the poster. The poster design itself is by Ronna Rajaniemi, owner of Petaltail Studios.

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Promotional advertising marketing poster for Branch River community theater production of Charles Busch play Olive and the Bitter Herbs

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Naturally you’re saying to yourself: yes, but what’s this sausage business?

It’s part of the plot: Olive, the main character, is an aging actress. Years ago, she made a television commercial for sausage. Her big line: “Gimme the sausage!” It was the high point of her career. No wonder she’s bitter and depressed these days.


The television set graphic seems to be the official logo for the play. It appears on the front of the scripts furnished by Samuel French, Inc., which licenses the play.


logo for Charles Busch play Olive and the Bitter Herbs television set with rabbit ears antenna and fork and sausage silhouette


I thought I was being asked to do a color version of the television in the same style as the characters– so my original drawing looked like this:


caricature artwork for theater poster Olive and the Bitter Herbs including mirror and television set with fork and sausage


The client ultimately decided to use the official logo, so I deleted the television so the
logo could be pasted in. This also required blocking in the rest of the middle characters’ clothing, which produced this rather odd-looking result:


caricature artwork for theater poster Olive and the Bitter Herbs minus television set with fork and sausage


I actually know 5 of the 6 actors in the play, and have seen them in numerous shows– which made this assignment a lot of fun.

How accurate are the caricatures? Here are corresponding photos of the six actors.


photo to caricature compare for Olive and Bitter Herbs theater poster, Scott Gardner, Bert Torsey, Wendy Almeida, Susan Erickson-West, Peter Eisenstadter, Henry Parkhurst

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The show opens this Friday– time to fire up the grill and throw on the sausage! Here’s
the poster again:

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Promotional advertising marketing poster for Branch River community theater production of Charles Busch play Olive and the Bitter Herbs

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Are you a fan of community theater?

Ever done any acting yourself?

Are there any goofy TV commercials you still remember from years ago??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2014 5:54 PM

    One more work impeccably done by you! Your caricatures are very accurate! Shame about the tv… I can see how they wanted to use the logo for publicity purposes though. The designer has done a fine job with the poster and he has shown the appropriate respect to master Mark’s work! :-) Have a great rest of the week, my friend. [Hump Day ahead!] :-)

    • May 31, 2014 10:52 AM

      My dear Marina! If I had to do over again, I would have put your face on the TV– then the poster would have hummed and crackled with Olympian grace, beauty, and energy!! (I’ve noticed my face often has the same effect, even tho I am a mere mortal… : )

      Thank you for your always energizing support!! : )

      • June 1, 2014 7:31 PM

        …’mere mortal’?!!!!! In disguise you mean!!! :-)

        • June 2, 2014 2:16 PM

          This wonderful comment made my heart so light, I floated up to the Mt. Olympus Picnic Area, where I was able to buy a nice bunch of grapes from a vending machine… : )

          I walked around for a bit, and got to see your parking space. Thank you, my dear Marina!!

  2. May 27, 2014 6:49 PM

    Hi Mark,
    Your caricatures, or shall I say, your cartoons of those folks are so good. This is a super ad.

    Yes I have been in community theater groups but that was long ago. I don`t have the time to take on another hobby now. I`m struggling to make the time to blog in.

    P.S. i remain (quietly) your biggest fan.

    • May 31, 2014 11:12 AM

      My dear TT, your comments are always so gracious and gratifying– my sincere thanks. Your quiet support is a sustaining force, worth more to me than a stadium filled with cheering fans (tho I could probably muster up the fortitude to accommodate the latter scenario… : )

      Somehow I’m not surprised to hear you’ve done community theater. You’ve always struck me as a “deep waters” person, and I know from many years of attending plays that such people can tap into themselves and create especially impassioned characters on stage. Hope you can get back into it sometime. Who knows?– might be a good change of pace for you… : )

      Your support has always meant a lot. Thanks again.

  3. May 27, 2014 11:06 PM

    Ever done any acting yourself?

    I did a bit in grade school– middle school and high school. My wife was a theater tech major at uni before we got married.

    Please see for our last acting endeavor of sorts. It was actually for the convention’s costume contest, but it required some theater presentation.

    • June 2, 2014 2:20 PM

      Ah, I’m not a bit surprised, Jak– you’re a man of natural theatricality, in the very best sense of the word… : )

      Thanks for the link– your take on Uncle Fester was a true classic!

      As always, I sincerely appreciate your support. : )

  4. May 28, 2014 7:09 PM

    A friend and former colleague starred in two community theater productions this year. We went to see him in both. His performances and the shows he was in were a hoot. Really enjoyable.

    I’m betting the actors will be thrilled with your illustrations. Charming, funny and a great fit for the play. Wonderful job, Mark.

    • June 2, 2014 2:30 PM

      Thanks, Judy! Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that what often makes community theater so uniquely enjoyable, is seeing one’s friends on stage. No matter what happens, it’s always– if I may use your perfect owlish phrase– a hoot!

      Thanks for the kind words. I saw the show on opening night, and got to chat with all the actors afterwards. None of them tried to strangle me, so I think it all worked it. Thanks, as ever, for being your charming and supportive self!! : )

  5. May 30, 2014 9:41 AM

    Goof TV ad? Nissan Micra:: The guy swoons and dies over sticker shock of such a low price and then, his ghost emerges from his body to die of the same shock. Silly and hilarious!!!!

    Mon ami, hope this comment stands a ghost of a chance to give you a well-deserved weekend chuckle…..

    Hey diddle, diddle,
    Olivia in the middle
    A sausage ad sent her over the moon.
    Everyone laughed
    to hear her snort
    but her life
    line went into a swoon! :D

    • June 2, 2014 2:51 PM

      My dear Radhika, aka, Lady Quipster! I had never seen that Nissan Micra sticker shock commercial, so after reading your comment I hustled over to YouTube and remedied the situation. I shrieked like a banshee, clutched my heart, and disappeared into the shag carpet. I mean, I would have, if I had a shag carpet…

      Was the Nissan ad as funny as your nursery rhyme parody? No. Yours was funnier, and I don’t mean just by a shade. The funniest part was how you managed to simultaneously parody the Nissan ad itself, and have poor Olivia’s lifeline also go into a swoon. You kill me, but it’s always a fun hearse ride to Chuckle City!!

      Thanks for being the coolest soul to ever convulse the earth. And me!! : )

  6. May 31, 2014 6:45 AM

    Please, I would like to buy a ticket, but instead of the olive I prefer yougurt dressing but low fat an for me please a vegetarian sausage only medium roasted but from all site but ……

    • June 5, 2014 10:30 PM

      My dear, dear Tutti!! That is a most outrageous request!! But since it’s you, and because your wish has always been my command, I shall put on my chef’s hat and apron, and prepare it all for you at once!! Hmm, I wonder how one makes sausage–? I need German expertise– a craftsperson of great knowledge and skill!! Wait, I know– I’ll ask Tutti!!

      Say, maybe it would be easier if you just made it all yourself… yes, that sounds logical. Oh– make two servings, would you, please? I’ll join you!! : )

      Wonderful to hear from you, my merry, mischievous Tutti!! : )

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