Saturday, June 12, 2010
The Guy in the Third Row.
I'm including a picture of Shirley Jones, above, in the blog today cause I still think it's really cool she came to see our preview a couple nights ago. For my generation of TV watchers, she's a bit of an icon, you know.
So, opening night was a success. Would like to have seen more press there but I'm told a lot of them will be attending next weekend. Whatcha' gonna do. However, NPR was in fact there last night and they seemed to have liked it very much. When that review is out on radio I'll post the audio feed in this blog. If I can figure out how to do that.
There are still some tech things happening that is driving me absolutely bonkers, but Victor reassured me last night that he was all over that. And in fact, he already was. While the rest of the cast was in the lobby eating and drinking last night, I found Victor in the theatre working away in the booth.
The comment I'm hearing most often is, "What an amazing cast." Which pleases me tremendously. A play is only as good as its weakest actor. We don't have a weak actor. As one might expect, I'm mostly too busy trying to save my own ass out there most of the time and consequently can't really comment in any informed way about another actor's work, but last night I did notice a couple of things. Rob Arbogast as Roman was heartbreaking in our final "bar" scene. Even I, the ever oblivious actor that I am, noticed how deep his work went in that scene. It was in an area of honesty so true that I felt like a voyeur at one point. Brad Blaisdell as Greg did the same in our last scene together. It is set in a bowling alley and is written quite succinctly. Brad was simplicity itself in that scene. He's a funny actor. Been at this a long time. Even when he's struggling a bit with the next line he has learned to make that work for him rather than against him. The character is seen struggling for the next line, not Brad himself. It's a nifty piece of misdirection that only a real veteran can pull off. Tara as Susan let the flood gates go in our last scene together. It is exactly how the scene should be played and Tara rose to the challenge like a champ. Terribly moving stuff. And Bonnie and Melanie were spot on last night, particularly Melanie in her long "boss" monologue.
So, again, even though the lighting and sound stuff is still haphazard at times, the evening as a whole was pretty nice, I think. As I finished up the play last night, standing stage center and reciting my parting lines, it was like cold and flu season out there. So much sniffling I could hear it loud and clear on stage. Rather amused me.
Of all the nice things said to me afterwards at the reception last night one in particular sticks with me. A lady I didn't know came up to me and said, "I'm so sorry, but I just had to turn away at the end. It was all just too painful to watch." I'm not sure "painful" is what we're searching for there, but I'll take it.
So I told our friends with the cabin in Big Bear we wouldn't be needing it after all. I can stay in L.A.
My buddies Chad Coe (played the lead in my play, From the East to the West) and Jim Barbour were there last night. Both liked it a lot, I think. Oddly, Chad, all six feet, five inches of him, was in the front row. I think I actually stepped over his legs a couple of times while negotiating around the stage. Jimmy tweeted during the show on Twitter. He wrote, "I'm watching the greatest performance onstage I have seen in many, many years." Nice.
Tonight my old friend and very fine actor, Brad Greenquist, is coming. I haven't seen Brad in almost twenty years. We started out together in NY and both studied with the brilliant Michael Moriarty for a few years. Brad actually did one of my plays in NY called DAD/SONS. He is, probably, the hardest working actor in L.A. You can't swing a dead cat without seeing him on TV.
So now we settle in for a run of this thing. There will be hurdles. There will be on and off nights. There will be frustrations and triumphs. It's all good. It's all unfolding exactly as it should. There were a couple of 'Friends of Bill' there last night, too. They, more than anyone else, get this play. They, more than anyone else, are touched by the content. And they, more than anyone else, are who I wrote it for. If I can reach one person, one recovering soul, one ex-addict struggling with addiction, it will all be worth it. That's what I set out to do. I didn't write this thing for critics or directors or actors or savvy first-nighters or friends or armchair, Monday morning quarterbacks. No, I wrote this for the guy in the third row, who heard about it through another friend, who thought he might like to see a play about drinking too much, who earlier that day considered taking a drink, maybe. I wrote this play specifically for him. He is royalty in my theatre when this play is running. He is our audience. The guy in the third row is the sole reason for creating this play. The sole reason for beating myself over the head with a board for the past three months. He makes everything not only worthwhile but infinitely noble.
And you know, I think he just might have been there last night.
See you tomorrow.