My buddies Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu's off-Broadway show, "The Big Voice - God or Merman" is opening this Thursday (I'm seeing it Saturday). I'm excited for Steve and Jim. This is a very big deal for anyone in the theater. I secretly hope that the show is a huge success. Traditionally, this is done by saying to them: "Break a Leg!" It's considered bad luck to wish somebody good luck in the theater. Nobody knows why. It's always been done that way. The theater has all kinds of odd-ball superstitions, like "no whistling in the dressing room" or "no shoes on the makeup table." Stuff like that. Actors are pretty crazy people.
I did a fair amount of theater in high school, which was the usual haven for burgeoning queers back in the 50's and 60's. But I really cut loose in college. I did 17 shows in three years at the University of Delaware. Oscar Wilde, Joe Orton, Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare, you name it, I did it. Musicals, too. "Where's Charley", "Damn Yankees", "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." I barely went to class, as is clearly evidenced by my transcript.
It turned out that I had a "hole in my soul" that seemed to get temporarily filled up by the adoring laughter and applause of an audience. I eventually got so addicted to it that I thought I couldn't live without it.
When I got out into the real world I was very disappointed to find out that people actually wanted me to audition for roles. How I resented that! So I didn't bother and, in time, I grew out of my need to act. Mostly by filling up the hole with other stuff, like booze and sex.
I eventually did join SAG, AFTRA and Equity (the three big actor's unions), and did a lot of commercial and print work in the very early 1980's. But my ex eventually tired of me being underemployed, so I wound up on Wall Street which, in it's own way, was the best acting gig I ever had. God knows it paid good!
These days I'm content to bask in the reflected glow of my friends' success. Oh sure, there are times when I miss the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd, but I'm no longer willing to do what has to be done to make a decent living in the theater. It's hard work, and I'm older and lazier these days. Folks who do it have my endless admiration.
So here's to my friends Jim and Steve on their big New York Opening!
BREAK A LEG, YOU GUYS!