Sunday, November 12, 2006

One more week of my Broadway journey is history. A few nights ago I realized just how transitory my journey really is.

I went to Angus for an after show dinner with a few members of the Helen Hayes house staff, John, Berd, Linda and Jessica. Collectively they have worked about six decades at the Hayes. John told me he and Linda got married after they met at the theater. John got his usher job when his Father worked there thirty-five years ago. They are all much too young to have even been alive that long.

My show hasn’t been at the Theatre long enough to even blip the radar screen of this group. They have so many stories and hold so many secrets on the people who have performed there; it is intimidating to say the least. They remain, however, un-jaded by this experience and are the nicest and most efficient house staff on Broadway.

I have to deal with the audience as a “crowd”. On stage I hide behind a fourth wall, with lights, sound and puppets. From there, I have control. The house staff has to deal with the audience as individuals, who come late, can’t find their seat, rattle candy wrappers, take unauthorized photos, ring cell phones and always think they will enjoy the show better from another row. I don’t know how they manage to deal with it all, but they do, and they remain happy. It is most probably the quality of their character, but it could be the magic of this theatrical jewel box.

I never want to leave this theater. But I know that my show is just a small link in a very long chain. Shows open, shows close, it has always been that way since the theater itself opened in 1912. It would be totally selfish of me to keep some other actor from experiencing the embrace of this magical place. But then I think to myself how selfish it is for someone to take it away. I don’t know how long the muse has me scheduled to stay, but I will bask in the warmth and excitement of this moment, these people and this Theater every minute I am allowed to do so.

Good night, Helen, with mixed emotions I realize that a day off is also a day away from you.
As you were,
Jay

4 comments:

the other one said...

Everything in life is transitory. Yes, we've had shows and performers come and go and many stories and memories contained within the walls of the Hayes. Few of the transients stay for very long other than with a few stories here and there. Sometimes one comes along that seems as if they had been there all along.

Jay, you top the list. I don't think we've ever had anyone fit right in as well and as quickly as you. We are the lucky ones. Yes, eventually the show will go and and another will come in but it won't be the same.

I don't know if anyone has told you but there's a little secret about the Hayes...some people never leave. You signed the thirty year contract, didn't you?

Marc said...

Jay, it's so great that you're able to reflect a little bit on your experience even as you're in the thick of it. Enjoy the heck out of your Broadway run, because you've earned it.

FiftyNinth said...

Hey, congrats on your Ovation Award!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Ovation Award. That is awesome!!!