Monday, November 27, 2006

Well, I finally got that day off I have been anticipating for two and an half months. It was restful but not as satisfying as I thought it would be.

My last show was emotional and thrilling. The crowd was a mix of those who have been before and those who were seeing the show for the first time. Everyone seemed to sense this was a unique experience. There was a champagne party afterwards for the house staff, producers and cast. It was a party that everyone would rather not have attended.

In my last curtain speech I mentioned I was glad to experience the 100 years of Helen Hayes Theater ghosts before they left, since the theater is going to be remodeled after my show. I hinted that I was taking the ghosts with me. Although “ghost hunter” has been recently left out of my resume, I have been fascinated with ghosts for a long time. I know the quickest way to get rid of ghosts is to remodel a building. The ghost of Lincoln walked the second story of the Whitehouse until it was remodeled in the Truman administration. There are many more examples of that phenomenon.

The legal affairs representative for the theater seemed to take acceptation to this statement. She said that everyone who has ever played this theater has left spirits instead of taking them away. I joked and said it sounded like a legal challenge to “ghost rights”. I assured her that I would deposit rather than extract her theater ghosts. I lied. I am taking them all. If you have seen my show you know the close association ventriloquism has to necromancy. Broadway has changed and these ghosts are ready to leave. I kept thinking they didn’t want me to stay, but now realize they wanted to go with me. They no longer want to stay.

After the Atlantic Theater run I stored several boxes with the Wiz in anticipation of the Helen Hayes run. We had no idea it would be two years later. I stuck some things on the truck in Los Angeles with the set to come to Broadway, and did the same thing when we played Cambridge. I purposely brought things from every theater we played here to Broadway so each step along the journey would be represented. So there are three theaters worth of personal stuff that needs to be accounted for. I think it will take me all of tomorrow to sort through it.

I am past the point of shock and denial, into the “move on” phase. Tomorrow I will clear out the dressing rooms and get all the stuff back to Los Angeles. It is a daunting task, I really settled into this run. I just thought we would be here for at least 6 months, particularly after the reviews.

I will miss being part of a community. It was great to come to work and see Officer Don on the street, wave to Victor at Sardis, get a greeting from John and Bobby the doormen at the Hayes, joke with the house staff and crew, the waiters and waitresses at Angus and see friends who work across the street in other shows. It was beginning to feel like home. To belong is a rare treat for a traveling gypsy. I have been “on the road” with my act for years, just at the point you begin to belong you have to move on. It feels like being the new kid in school all the time. Having a community of artists working right next door was a great feeling.

I will perform the show again many times and in many different theaters. It will feel the same as it did on stage in New York, but the minute the curtain comes down I will miss the village of Broadway. However, I will have a 100 years of Broadway theater ghosts with me. They will remind me of what Broadway once was, a place looking for new and different theater, not the same tired productions that have stayed too long, and paled in the commercial light of the Great White way.
As you were,


the other one said...

You may be taking a "few" with you but you'll still be leaving something behind...all the wonderful memories!

Barry said...

Congratulations Jay... I've read this blog everyday since it started. It has been an exciting ride for you and I want to thank you for taking us all with you.

From reading the reviews and comments around the web and on this blog I feel sad that I didn't get to see the show. Having worked with you many times in the past I know the quality of your performance but would have loved to have buckled up in the Hayes to see what it has grown into.

I will find you on the road as you tour the show and I will get to tell you in person how proud I am of you.

You left us all better than "As we were".

Barry Friedman
Raspyni Brothers