I sit here listening to "Turkey Lurkey Time," a truly bizarre but awesome Christmas(-ish) song from Promises, Promises. (Whaddya think I listen to Christmas carols or something??) I think back over 2008 and I see two things. Personally, it was a rough year for me, with all the bullshit at the Ivory, scrambling to find a new theatre, and other ridiculous, difficult things I suffered through. But artistically, it could not have been a better year.
I feel like we really hit three Home Runs in 2008. Assassins was one of those perfect shows for me. I got to pick my dream cast, we got to work on brilliant, ballsy material, and I felt like I did some of my very best work. This was our third time doing this show (and that sort of became an accidental theme for the year...), and it was clearly the best of the three excellent productions we've done -- the smartest, the most interesting, the most daring, the funniest, and the most shattering. What a joy to work on a show like that with people like that. Despite the bullshit with the Ivory, I'm crazy proud of that one.
And then there was one of the great thrills of my life, working on the brilliant, deeply emotional, painfully truthful High Fidelity. This was a show I think every one of us was so grateful to work on. Talk about a labor of love! To be the first people to do this show after Broadway (and arguably the first people to do it RIGHT) was awesome, but even awesomer was the show's lyricist flying in to see us and loving it! This will be one of those shows I'll never forget. It surely ranks as one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had in the theatre. And once again, I am eternally grateful to that wonderful, playful, wildly talented cast, especially Jeff Wright, who brought such warmth and honesty to the proceedings. We kicked some fuckin' ass and the best part is everybody who saw it just fell in love with it. We actually sold out on the Fourth of July!! Who could ask for more than that?
And then there's Hair, another show we did for the third time this year. I was proud of our first two productions of Hair, but this one really was the strongest of the three. I certainly understood this crazy show this time better than I did the other times, but we also had a great cast and incredible leads in Todd Schaefer and John Sparger. And again, what a joy to work on material that good with people that good and share it with audiences who fell madly in love with it. People came back time after time -- one guy saw it ten times, others saw it four, five, six times.
Hair always reminds me the reason we make theatre -- to connect to people, to say something of value to them, and hopefully to send them out of the theatre a little wiser, a little more thoughtful, a little less confused and alone than when they came in. Hair certainly did that every night -- and to produce the show in the middle of this history-making political season was a genuine thrill. I'll never forget after the show one night early in the run, when one audience member yelled out as he was leaving, "Vote Obama! Don't let this happen again!"
It's not a metaphor, it's the truth -- the theatre is my church. It's where we go to touch God, where we celebrate the wonder of being human, where we come together in ancient rituals to make sense of our world and to connect to each other. Every day of my life I count myself lucky -- we are the tribe shamans, the tellers of stories, the revealers of Great Truths, the intermediaries between the spirit world and the physical world. And I ask you -- what could be cooler than that??? :)
Merry Christmas and thanks to all the New Liners for being part of all this joy and beauty.
Long Live the Musical!