My latest show, A New Brain, ended on Sunday.
I almost never get upset over the ending of a show.
Each show has its lifespan – auditions, callbacks, being cast, rehearsal, memorization, and finally performance.
And by the last performance, I am usually ready to have my life back.
The same is true of A New Brain.
By Sunday, I was ready for the show to be over.
It was such a challenge and each performance took a lot out of me.
So, despite loving the show, loving the role, and loving pretty much everyone involved with the show, I was ready to have my life back.
Apparently, this time, I was in a bit of denial.
I was fine throughout the performance.
But after bows, and I got backstage, I ugly cried.
Something deep inside of me understood just what was coming to an end and how special it was.
For all of what A New Brain took out of me, it gave me so much more.
I got to sing amazing music that was such a challenge that one song I never did get exactly right – but that Sunday, I came the closest I think I might be capable of achieving.
And that makes me happy.
The underlying emotions of my character, Mimi (Mother) Schwinn, never got stale. The content of the show and Mimi’s part in it, continued to move me to tears every performance.
Mimi is a gem of a role; and I will be ever grateful I got to play her.
I got to watch people whom I admire so much perform each night – giving their all to their own roles.
I got to hear music with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 part harmonies sung by amazing voices each night. Everyone knowing their music, their parts, and singing them out loud and clear.
(You don’t know how rare that experience can be in non-professional theater.)
The Tabard Theater, for those who are not familiar, is a strange place.
It is not your typical theater venue.
The stage is a lop-sided semicircle.
There is basically no off-stage area – except along a wall behind flats, next to the audience, and a small area curtained off at the end of the bar where the cast sat each night – for the full 90 minutes of the show (no intermission – no toilets on the theater level – no dressing rooms on the theater level).
There is only one practical entrance to the stage – upstage left; although entrances through the audience are possible.
All of these things make doing a musical challenging.
Our show went bare bones – just set pieces and the band was in full view throughout – behind us.
The sound system, luckily, is excellent – once it is properly balanced. Not balanced, it is kind of a nightmare to hear each other and the band.
This gives you an idea of how hard a director and choreographer have to work to block and choreograph a show on this stage.
And A New Brain came out pretty much perfect.
Our choreographer, Gary Ferguson, I can’t praise enough.
He created such clever, inventive choreography that we could actually do.
I love that he said, “If after working on it, you can’t do it – then I haven’t done my job, and we’ll fix it!”
Gary is incredibly busy producing, directing and choreographing, so I am so thankful he squeezed A New Brain into his already crowed schedule.
It probably won’t fully hit me until the end of the week, when I don’t have to start doing warmups and working my songs to death (again), that I will start to truly feel the hole that the end of this show has put in my heart.
When I don’t go down to the dressing room dungeons and sit around chatting with my castmates (something I rarely do – usually, I arrive at the theater fully made-up and find a corner where I sit running lines).
I don’t know if I have changed or if it is just A New Brain phenomenon but I did not stress as much about my (many) lyrics and (few) lines.
Once a performance started, it was off to the races and you either knew it or you didn’t. And when I would flub a lyric, it was gone so fast, I didn’t have time (or the energy) to beat myself up about it. Besides, the chances the audience caught it were pretty much none.
So goodbye A New Brain.
You showed me I could do things I did not think I was capable of anymore.
You brought so many wonderful people into my life.
You gave me a challenge and let me live up to it (for the most part).
I miss you already.