Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Favorite Line

Laying on a twin mattress covered in black theatre drapes behind the stage left risers after my death, I figured it out.

"What's your favorite line from the play?" my dad had asked me when he was here three weeks prior to see Into the Woods produced cooperatively with the Jewish Repertory Theatre and Trinity Street Players. I didn't have an answer. There's so many good ones:
  • Slotted spoons don't hold much soup.
  • I'll see you soon again, I hope that when I do it won't be on a plate.
  • That's another story, never mind.
  • And whichever you pick, do it quick cause you're starting to stick to the steps of the palace.
  • I was raised to be charming, not sincere.
  • I'm in the wrong story.
  • Princes wait there in the world, it's true. Princes, yes, but wolves and humans too.
  • You can talk to birds?
  • Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell.
  • It was a full day of eating for both.
  • No one cared when there was a dead giant in my back yard!
But none satisfied the question.

Additionally, at a bar one evening after the show, several actors and I were talking about, well, crap actors talk about: favorite musicals, upcoming auditions, the genius of Sondheim, our top fives, etc.

And one colleague made the comment that he isn't a huge fan of Into the Woods. I was aghast, shocked, defensive, and would have fired him on the spot, but we still had a week of performances left. Not to mention that in the wake of our Cinderella losing her voice voice (which gave rise to #Cinderunzel as Rapunzel has taken over singing the Cinderella role as the real Cinderella plays it physicality)... well, in the words of Cinderella, I couldn't fire the actor in my  beer-buzzed state because "I could not bear to lose another."

We bantered half-heartedly: he prefers slapstick and bawdy, and I prefer genius and genuine (my words, not his). But when he asked me why I liked Into the Woods so much... again, I didn't have an answer.

Fast forward to about 9:35pm in the middle of Act Two on Thursday night, and I begin my final ascent up the stairs to the stage left platform to finish The Last Midnight. "All right, mother, when? Lost the beans again! Punish me the way you did then - give me claws and a hunch, just away from this bunch and the gloom and the doom and the boom..." And then I project "Crunch!" as a high G, sustained, until the lights go to blackout and I can jump from the platform onto the mattress offstage and "die."

Photo by Rod Machen
I laid there calming my breathing and listening as the next scene began. I always stay there through the next song, and once the audience has forgotten about me over there, I exit.

That evening had been particularly powerful for me. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was tired from a week of broken computers, ailing actors, funerals, job changes, horrible terrorist attacks, racism cloaked in religion, or the bullshit Republican political agenda... so it felt normal to confess (admonish?) "the world is dark and wild."
But as I lay there, breathing quietly, and listening to the next scene, I heard it.