Okay, so I feel like blowing a bunch of hot air about the state of theater in Los Angeles and the state of the people who GO to the theater in Los Angeles. Also, my own personal epiphany, which will come later.
Last Sunday we pretended we were like the rest of the country...the ones with a positive balance in their checking accounts...and we went to see the closing performance of "Hair" at the Pantages. I thought it would be a nice book-end...we had been to opening night, we should close it. Besides, the hubster wasn't in town when we went the first time, rush tickets aren't all THAT expensive as things go (they're the equivalent of a movie and a large popcorn, don't start me on THAT) and I had that rather unfortunate experience with my seat mate on opening night that somewhat intruded upon the experience of actually SEEING the first act instead of the arm of the woman next to me.
I wasn't thrilled, the only tickets they could get on rush were in the 4th row of the balcony and, much as I hate to admit it, I am somewhat nervous about heights. I wasn't ready when the family left, so I took the next bus. If the tickets were refundable I probably would have had them take mine back. We met up and adjourned to a local bar. It was in the "W" hotel, which was the only bar we could find we could get IN to last Sunday afternoon. This wasn't so much an indication of the general sobriety of Hollywood as it was the 2nd quarter of the Steelers-Jets game. We finally found a bar without cable. A martini, a gimlet, a vodka and cranberry and a coke cost a modest $55.00.
No, I'm NOT kidding.
We didn't even get a bowl of cocktail nuts.
But the gin was cold (yes, I drink gin. A "martini" denotes gin. This is why that other drink is called a "vodka martini". Not that any bartender under the age of 75 knows that anymore)and I was oiled up enough to trot up the stairs to the mezzanine.
The seats were awfully good, considering. The rake was gentle and there was plenty of leg room, thus negating my height problems. The four high school girls next to us were a joy to sit with. They were friendly and invited us to go downstairs with them when they headed for the stage at the end of the show. They were involved in their theater program, wore dresses and neither talked nor texted through the show. As we chatted before the show started they were very interested in shows the hubster and I had seen that were on stage before their time.
GOD...there IS a future!
A friend of mine texted me from the theater (I did not know she was there) that she was watching "Hair" and was not impressed. The hubster wasn't thrilled with the use of horns in the band. For one of the first times, it didn't matter.
Because Sunday night, in that theater, we caught lightning in a bottle.
No one's folded arms and no one's theater degreed opinions could stop it. The cast was on fire and the energy whipped through the audience like a slingshot. I have never, in my life (and that includes the closing night of Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The U.S.A. tour) been in a theater where the cast and the audience developed such a symbiotic relationship. It was kharma, for two and a half hours we could not have existed without each other.
About two-thirds of the way through the first act, the title song started. And so did the magic. Up the aisles the actors went, up on chair backs, up rigging, they were everywhere. The sound mix wasn't so good on Sunday but it didn't matter. What had been a song became an anthem, pounding, pulling balding boomers and dewy eyed teens alike to their feet, all the while clap-clap-clap-clap-clap, driving the music forward. Those kids on stage were about to stop a show - and they knew it.
I imagine this is how riots start.
It calmed down, but the energy never let up. As the show ended and "Let the Sunshine In" started to crescendo my son (and the four very nice girls to our left) got up to go downstairs and head for the stage. He looked at me and said "you coming?" I didn't go the last time. I had asked the hubster earlier if he was game for it, his answer was "hell no!" Normally this would have stopped me. Sort of the "please, act like a grown up" message.
Sunday night, for one of the first times in my life, I said "Hell yes!" and took off.
Down the stairs, down the orchestra aisle. It was an old-fashioned love-in down there. The cast was on stage, in the aisles, on seats, open armed, waving people up on the stage and when the stage could hold no more they continued to beckon people down, ushering us to the front of the stage, the side aisles, anywhere there was room. We clapped and we danced and we sang the last bars of "Hair" and the cast started their final "Let The Sunshine In" with us. Arms up, swaying right, then left and we all turned towards the audience and sang. And the audience members who stayed in their seats were standing, arms up, swaying back and forth and singing. On the floor, in the balcony, the ushers had all crept in the back doors to be part of it, I can only imagine what it must have sounded like in the lobby. No one wanted to leave.
I always wanted to go into the theater. BIG surprise, I'm sure. But my parents said "don't learn to sing, learn to type" and so I did. And they said "don't be an actor, be a secretary" and so I was. And they taught me to work, and work hard because dreams were hobbies. And I've done that. But Sunday night I finally did what I wanted to do and who cares what you think? I looked out FROM a stage instead of AT a stage. It was mildly hedonistic and extremely cathartic. And I understood why all those people carry AFTRA cards.
And I remembered a line from the movie "Hairspray" of all things. At the end, before the frenetic last dance number, the host of the show says to the producer "This is the future. You can either fight it, or rock out to it."
And that was my epiphany. It's time to rock.