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Just here--wait--what?

Your Humble Blogger just had an odd theater experience that I thought I would share with y’all, as why not?

Gentle Readers will remember that YHB has been doing community theater over the last few years, not starting one play as soon as the other is finished (some start rehearsals for one show during performances of the last, actually, which I have never ever done) but allowing a nice rest in between. I did a show this past autumn, and one last spring, and one the summer before, and so on. Well, and I had been settling in to my time-in-between-shows, glorying in my evenings spent with Best Reader, tucking the Perfect Non-Reader and the Youngest Member in to bed, and generally not missing rehearsals, when I got a telephone call.

The director of Prisoner of Second Avenue, which was in rehearsals at the stage I was most recently allowed to tread, had come down with a bad case of lead-drop. I don’t know the details. But there he was, still eight weeks before opening, with no lead actor. So he called up two men he had seen recently, and one of them was Your Humble Blogger.

Now, I had seen the audition notice for 2nd Ave. I decided not to audition for it, because, as I say, I did not want to be in a show this winter, and I didn’t want to be in that particular show enough to overcome that. On the other hand, I was being offered a lead (or, more accurately, a 50% chance at a lead), and a lead that I think I could do well (Neil Simon should be in my wheelhouse). It would certainly be good for my future in the community to (a) be good in a lead role, and (2) help out a director in need. And, of course, it would be good to help out a director in need—it must be just utterly awful to have somebody drop out in the middle of rehearsals. So of course I said I would come in and read for him, and let him see.

The telephone call was Wednesday evening. We arranged for me to go and read on Thursday evening (latish, as my Best Reader had a thing scheduled, and I was on tucking-in-duty until she returned). That gave me all day Thursday to think about it, and since I was working in the afternoon, I could get a copy of the play and re-read it.

Digression, I suppose: I saw the thing ten years ago in London with Richard Dreyfuss in the lead, and my impression was that it was kind of a nothing part. I mean, a big part, sure, but it was just tossing out the wisecracks. It turns out, upon inspection, that Mr. Dreyfuss, the sonofabitch, is a good actor—the character is incredibly unlikable, but the audience needs to like him or the play doesn’t work at all. It is difficult to carry that off, and he did it without making me aware that he was doing it. At any rate, I was surprised, when I looked at it, how little idea I had what to do with the part if I wound up with it. Imitating my memory of Mr. Dreyfuss clearly wouldn’t work. End Digression.

So I went and read for it last night, and the director said he would get back to me today. So I went to bed thinking I might be in a show, and woke up thinking I might be in a show, a show that I had had no intention of being in until the night before.

So I was in a state of advanced ambivalence. On the one hand, I was thinking of all the reasons I wanted the director to pick the other guy. I don’t want to be in a show again so soon. The show isn’t really that great. I don’t have any idea what to do with the part. The weather is going to get ugly, and I would have to drive back late at night in January and February. It’s more work for the Best Reader. I would miss my Best Reader, and I would miss tucking the kids in, too.

And on the other hand, of course, I was thinking of all the reasons I wanted him to pick me. It’s a challenge as a part. I am building a reputation. I like being in shows. I would meet some new theater people. I am better than that other guy (whoever he is).

Well, the call came in around midday, and he picked the other guy.

Just as well, really.

Although I would have been better than him. Whoever he is.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,