My internet friend is sleeping above Ella tonight. Jess is tucked into the top bunk like a trooper. She doesn’t seem to mind sharing a room with a caterpillar, a snoring four year old, 55 pieces of dollhouse furniture and a cheapo CD player with an obnoxious (to me) 60 cycle hum.
The Underblawger (I think?) once posted about the “silver veil” that is lifted once you meet someone that you have only known on the other side of the screen. Do they ever look like you think? Sound like they write? What happens when you have a voice to go with those words? Is it like Whoppi Goldberg in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” when she hears Jack’s voice on the answering machine and now his on screen words are narrated in that voice? That’s how it was when I met Jess for real. And she is just the same in person (although more vibrant and alive if that’s possible) as she is on screen. I will say that she is much “nicer” and much more considerate of feelings on screen. Not that she’s not considerate in person but she always writes the perfect answers to all of life’s troubles.
This afternoon, Jess and I sat in the front row of the performing arts center that I used to secretly run where I used to work and saw the national touring company (Troika) production of Movin’ Out. It opened in 2002 and has a weak “plot” with kick ass Billy Joel music. I am always skeptical about the quality of the modern musical. This wasn’t so much of a musical as a rock ballet. (Or as I heard a friend’s husband call it: Ballet Porn.) There is no singing other than the “Piano Man”, suspended above the stage with the rest of the band. He plays, the ensemble below dances. All are classicly trained ballet dancers.
The beauty of Movin’ Out (and, for the record, I really liked it even though I was in the front row and could see every wardrobe malfunction) is that the dancers did only that. They danced. They didn’t try to sing. They certainly and blessedly didn’t try to act. Nothing ruins a good musical experience when singers try to dance (Ever seen a dancing opera? Didn’t think so. Not a good idea.) or when dancers try to act (See: “Footloose the musical” or “Fame!” Yuk. Freaking yuk.”). It also is quite obvious when actors try to “move well” like their resume says. But that’s not as bad. You can kind of fake that (see: me in “Hello, Dolly! my junior year at FHS dancing the waltz).
I adore dance. I want to dance. I dance in my dreams all the time. I also play the piano. But my dreams consist of playing the piano and hoping that nobody notices that I really don’t know how to play or that I know enough notes to fake it. I love watching good dancers (like today) and I could listen to somebody play the piano all day. Especially when men do it. That’s the definition of sexy to me. Okay, not the whole definition…but it’s a start. And, yes, I get that most of them don’t dig chicks.
Watching a show with all Billy Joel music (and in the theatre that I helped open) set off a whole host of memories. “We didn’t start the fire” reminds me of my ninth grade boyfriend, Ben. Ben was my first “real” kiss…my first real boyfriend. Ben was (and probably still is) very quiet. I was his first girlfriend, the first one to break his heart or at least what he thought was broken. He was the first in a long line of quiet boys that I introduced to tongue kissing (and, later, oh so much more), PDA and the finer art of keeping a girl happy. This trend continued through college and into touring summer stock and beyond. It got more difficult as the years went on of course. The boys grew up and it became more and more difficult to find one that needed a little coaxing out of his shell. So to speak. And now it is probably completely impossible given my age and I’m left without a MO.
(For the best?)
Being in my old stomping grounds (I’ve figuratively pissed in every corner so it will always be mine) made me want to go back and do it again. Do it now. Ditch the littles in daycare and hit the old grind. Teach the college kids, punks that they are, to do it right. To respect the art and to work hard. To teach them about efficency and responsibility and, sometimes, history. Most of them never went on to careers in theatre and that’s okay. They are general contractors, IRS agents, teachers, relators, youth pastors, mom and dads. But someday they will take their kids and their spouses to see a show and they will be able to explain what everything does and why. They will donate to new theatres and support the road shows. They will get old and board busses bound for Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City and say to their travel mates “I did that show once.” I think I’d like that again. Maybe not right now. And maybe not ever. I don’t regret quitting when I did but I do wish, for today anyway, that I could go back.