Thursday, February 18, 2010

On Chad, Nickella and JR...

Second night of the play down. Good show. Great work from an amazing cast. Chad Coe, Nickella Maschetti, JR Mangels, all young actors to watch. Blazing talents. I am so lucky to have them saying my words.

Good response last night, generally. Nearly full house. A few bucks for the theatre. Had my lifelong buddies, Johnny Bader and Jim Petersmith and James Barbour there. That was a thrill for me. Apparently Bader and Petersmith were plotting to throw BBs onstage at some point. The plan never came to fruition, thank god.

Jimmy Barbour, one of the most talented stage actors I've ever seen, liked the work. That meant a lot to me. Can't go into details, but look for Jim to play another lead on Broadway in the not-too-distant future. I was hanging out in the lobby afterwards, schmoozing donors, chit-chatting, laughing, and I took a moment to glance over at Jim. He's a presence to be reckoned with even in the most casual of settings. What's great about Jim that most people don't know is that trapped inside that tall, imposing, leading man is a ten year old boy with a really silly sense of humor. Love that about him.

I honestly believe as I get older I am experiencing a mild case of agoraphobia. It is an effort for me to be in a room full of people. But, hey, it's LA and one has to do these things. Fortunately, Angie has a keen eye for my discomfort and graciously whisks me out of uncomfortable situations in a heart beat. She always "has my back."

I am now in a position, oddly, of not being able to comment on the play that much. I'm in the middle of it and quite frankly, don't see much going on around me. I'm too busy trying to save my own ass on stage. The scary and cool thing about working with actors like Nickella and Chad and JR is that they don't let me coast. They are so good, that if I start digging into my bag of "acting tricks" too much, I just get overwhelmed by them. Nickella, especially, does not allow me to be dishonest. She is, quite possibly, the most honest actress I have ever worked with. I feel just a little phony every time we have a scene together. That's good for me.

Years ago I was doing Tom in The Glass Menagerie. Every night I would get this card, or a flower, or sometimes candy from a secret admirer in the audience. Still remember the name - Delores. Finally after a few days, she asked the House Manager if I wouldn't mind coming out to the lobby following the show to meet. She wrote me a short note that said, "I love watching you perform. You remind me of my favorite actor!"

So I said, "Of course, I'll come out." She wanted some pictures of us together. Out I go to the lobby after the show and there she is, a matronly woman, cheery, very polite. We pose for some pictures together. She's really complementary and delightful. But I can't resist, being the actor that I am. I say, "So, Delores, I remind you of your favorite actor?"

"Oh, yes!" She says.

I'm bracing myself for someone like Brando or maybe Pacino or DeNiro. Maybe Harrison Ford. I'm thinking quite possibly Kirk Douglas.

She says, "Every time you walk onstage, I say to myself, 'There he is...Buddy Hackett. I love Buddy Hackett."

Long pause from me. "Really."

See you tomorrow.