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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Last Moments of This Moment


“Thank you , five.” 

This is whispered in a dozen voices. The voices come from dark corners and from behind scrims and curtains. They are the voices of the young actors in Lucky Boy, in response to our stage manager, telling us that we have five minutes until the first note is played by the band.

Once that note is struck, the show is on and nothing short of a meteor striking the Robert Moss Theater can stop it. But, for now, it is still yet to be.

Three teenaged actors giggle over something on a phone.  Another sits alone, prepping a prop that will be needed at some point in the next two hours. Two Punky Cheer Girls sit on the floor, stretching and shaming those of us in the cast who have absolutely no hope of ever being able to make our legs do that.

Costumes are on, most props are set. These last five minutes are usually just for waiting, centering oneself and mentally preparing to be exposed to the criticisms and whims of the audience. But, even that gives way to the thrill. 
I’m going out there and I’m going to do what I came to do. 
Love me, hate me… I’ll deal with all of that later. Right now, this is it. Here I am.

Everyone feels it, and everyone deals with it in their own way. All of that mental energy arcs and snaps around the backstage area, filling the air with the ozone of hopes and dreams and fears. Some actors smile and whisper “excuse me” as they move around in a space not quite large enough for the amount of people in it. Others barrel around, blowing annoyed breaths through their noses as they make their way from wing to wing. But, it’s all the same feeling. Just different in the way one deals with it.

Even the excitement mixed with a bit of dread pales, however, to the sense of enormity in what we’re doing.

John Ryerson, author, musician, composer, has been working on this project for more than a year. Drawing inspiration from a life well lived, it could be said that this project is much longer in the making. But, I first heard of it a year ago, as I was working with John on a different show. “Listen to this,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working on.”

A year later, and months of rehearsals, tweaking and blocking have been done. Decisions great and small have been made. Space is secured, tickets arranged, programs designed. The first of four sold out shows goes off well. The second, even better. The third show produces a comfort level in the cast that emboldens even the most jaded teenager. Coming together to help someone realize their creative vision may not be the sole focus of every actor’s thoughts, but, for this cast, it is never far from their minds.

It doesn't matter what happens after this. No matter if this show goes on to be become the toast of Broadway, or performed a million times hence. This was it. This was the thing. These four shows are the culmination of all of that work, all of those decisions, all of those Sundays at White Pond. Everything after this is just that... after this. This is Lucky Boy.

Bonnie Halligan, our director, appears backstage. She steps around a cluster of set pieces and whispers to the stage manager. She turns and strides away, leaving encouragement and smiles in her path.

“Places.” 

Here we go.

Lucky Boy played four sold out shows at the Robert Moss Theater in NYC. The show was roundly considered as no less than a wonderful example of the future of musical theater. #luckyboy