At intermission it hit me. Glad-handing actors, urging them on a final time, emotion evolved. This next hour was it: the last card game in the last act of the last show…and I’d miss it.

By ten it was done. Fartik.

“Could you take a picture of me on stage?” I asked.

Darting from seats through curtain we found darkness. Lighting booth empty, it wasn’t to be. Wistfully I scooped up the large framed photo of MIchael (my personal autograph to the set), seizing it not unlike J.R. grabbed his daddy’s picture from the wall of Ewing OIl. It was 10:15 and bittersweet.

And over.

The first person seen at the cast party was Griff. How poetic. Ten-plus years my junior, he is senior of my theater friends, having played Von Trapp to my Max at Chagrin way back when. A macher out east, Griff was pivotal in my hire as director.

“Well, pal,” he leaned in, “What have you learned from it all?”
“Too soon,” I told him. “We’ll talk.”

Truth was I’d been sifting, synthesizing, and digesting my thoughts. For months.

Directing was, in so many was, a lonely process. Actors in companies share. Esprit de corps governs joy in their craft. Directors, regardless of staffs, walk alone. As such, Mango’s August admonition that I’d make mistakes, lose friends, and learn—had not been forgotten. Indeed, for all the right reasons, I chose to embrace it.

I sensed going in that the gig was a challenge. Laughter? That I could handle. If nothing else, shallow me that I am, I know what is funny. Still, what, oh what did I know of directing. I knew, dare I say, to hear opportunity’s knock:

So in August, unintimidated by his experience, I cast an area director as Felix. (Quietly, sans ego, he proved to be an invaluable resource). And in September, I ignored scathing email from a lead; he was frustrated, he shried, by the way things were going. (Apology came later, with remorse). And in October, I tweaked yet again the design of the set, adding schmatas here and there, rehanging pictures here and there —crooked—making it Oscar (Madison)-worthy. Heck! Who (if not me), knows what sloppy-chic is? Ask Fred Kanter! Do I not raise “mess” to an art form?

In November, when the final curtain fell, I looked on stage with pride. It had gone well, I sensed. Maybe better. Then I looked at me, in the mirror.DId I make mistakes? Of course. Did I lose some friends. We’ll find out. Ah…but did I learn? I’m not sure. Perhaps, as I told Griffin, it’s too soon.

I grew, though. This was certain. So much so, may I add, that I’d do it again.



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