Tonight was the showing of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” It was a huge turnout. Over two hundred people came to see it, the house was full. This is what makes life so beautiful.
No matter the blood, sweat, and makeup shed over the weeks of rehearsal, or in this case, the mere days, the big night is diametrical to the stress and frustration of those leading up to it. Tired, sore, and frantic bodies, some which joke and pester the other hair-pulling characters, and those who are prepared for the worst, and the ones who weren’t prepared for anything, all become new people, smiling, happy, alive, and magical. A new glow can be seen in everyone’s face, even after the makeup.
I was to open the show. We had set up in the corner of the ballroom, by the stage, a bench and a lamp post. I cued myself out and sat down, waited for the jazzy background music to fade, and just started playing.
As if I were practicing to myself, just playing for the pure enjoyment. I could feel the audience slowly pointing their eyes on me. Accordionist? What a character! I played many songs, which only I knew, and some that I knew were recognized, and their randomness brought smiles to many. Can you go from a polka to zydeco to the Super Mario Bros theme to “My Heart Will Go On” and then back to the chicken dance? Indeed, this was a pleasure and new and exciting. I could notice a girl or two. Perhaps one who normally did not sway left of center, but even she was smiling. I could see an older man, whom had played accordion for 57 years, rocking his shoulders to the music. Approval and delight powered me, and gave me a crazy psyco-kharma. It only made me play better and harder.
People clapped between melodies, they clapped to the chicken dance. For a few minutes, I connected so deeply with a very large group of people, something I haven’t done in years.
I could have kept going all night, but it was time to go to the next cue. I played the opening for the show, took my bow, and received my applause. I left, and let the rest of the show run its course.
Of course, until it was my course.
I was on the ball tonight. Without a doubt, I did not need a microphone. I did not miss a beat, which, reminds me of my high school years. Not even a marginal mistake, nothing was done without my complete control over it. It was like everything was in slow motion. I had all the time in the world to plan out every movement, from my eyebrows to my shifting weight, to my breathing and my voice. The audience was barely keeping up with me, and it was making it better for them. I was playing my role as Schmendiman perfectly. When I left the stage, after my short minute of stage time, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They were applauding hard. Who does that? Who earns that? This wasn’t a sitcom where the audience was told to clap and cheer whenever anything remotely special happened. This was meaningful. This, was, a very strong moment.
Even when a few lines were skipped, I found the exact right moment to enter myself back in, a duty to keep the show running smoothly. The audience was glad to see me again, and my interruption, although, on schedule anyways, gave the staged cast enough time to gain their bearings again. I hammed it, and was loved. There is no greater feeling than this.
And now, with no more curtain above me, no more void in front of me, and no more delicately rushed backdrop behind me, I leave it with only memory. I’ll add it to my scrapbook, along with the dozens of others. I am not a man of the stage, although I suppose I could be. If I could deal with the drama.
This was, by far, the most memorable evening I’ve had in so long. It’s good to feel this powerful, and it’s good to feel this amazing.
As for now though, it’s about time for some rest. It’s been a long adventure. Good night little man.