Our family has had a remarkable weekend. For the first time in a while, we were all together, not for a holiday, not for a birthday, just to share something special. We went to New York for a friend's Broadway opening. This is a really big deal.
We've known this young man since he was a kid, watched him work hard, and hone his skills, and capitalize on opportunities. He missed a major high school event because he was on international tour with West Side Story. Yeah, I'd have made the same choice, too. And here he was, opening on Broadway…Broadway! In "Aladdin." I think I have to see the show again and this time watch some of the other people on stage! Proud "other-mama" moment.
Our friend took us backstage after the show. For the first and last time, I got to stand on a Broadway stage and look out to the audience. The seats were empty, but some lights were still on, and I just stood there for a moment. Part of me just wanted to break into a time step; part of me had "Rose's Turn" and "Chorus Line" going through my head simultaneously (it gets noisy in there, I admit.) The backstage looked like any backstage of an ongoing production. There were props and scenery and stage spikes, but this was a BROADWAY stage, and the magic of that wasn't lost on me at all. After the show, we went to catch a bite, next to the theater, and the menu and the beer choices were just like the places my friends and I go after rehearsals. But this was a beer on BROADWAY. Soon, we were just a bunch of singers and dancers, comparing audition stories, director choices, and laughing a whole lot. It was a very good night.
March Madness was going on this weekend too, or so I'm told. We have a true sports fan in the family, and she was checking her updates all weekend to see how her teams were doing. She's not as into musical theater as her sister and I are, though she was just as excited about the weekend. I was struck by the similarity of our passions.
I don't know what it's like to play in a championship game, or make it to the playoffs, or any such thing. I know these athletes work hard, hone skills, and capitalize on opportunities. You trust your team, the people who are out there with you who have your back, with whom you've established a rhythm and an awareness that needs no words. Athletes, whether on stage or on the court, live for those moments. And lest anyone think otherwise, those folks up there dancing and singing are true athletes; you try singing and dancing through a musical number, full out, 8 shows a week and not letting the audience see you pant for breath. Then add to it the fact that, for this particular show, there are many bare chests and midriffs!
When you're a performer, you get to do that playoff game over and over. Every night, for the audience, is opening night. Your hundredth performance is their first one. Sure, if you're lucky, like our friend, it becomes a job, and you go do it whether you're at 100% or not. But I cannot express the joy that comes from performing. Our friend may be hoofing it in a bonafide Broadway hit, while I'm preparing for the next community theater audition, but I assure you, when we hear the overture we remember why we do this. You check your makeup and costume, bounce on your toes a little, your heartbeat picks up, then you take a big breath, and let those ticket-holders know they made the right choice to show up.
If you're in New York, go see "Aladdin." The carpet really flies, the Genie really makes magic, and watch for the guy in the opening number in yellow on stage right. Mr. Martin, we are so very proud of you.