Shrewpost 14: the unexpected magic

Had one of those odd, magical shows today. It’s a Saturday matinee and the weather, as if to compensate for the extended winter we’ve been having, is mighty fine. We thought no one would come this afternoon. I had our babysitter meet me and Griff and Ella at the theatre so they could see the play. I thought there was just enough slapstick and physical comedy to keep them intrigued. Oh – and then Daddy in the dress, pretending to be a girl. So Karen comped them in (thanks Karen!) and I put them in the balcony, where I figure they could leave quietly if the fidgeting got too extreme.

Having my kids watch me perform is always a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I so want to share what I do with them (when it’s appropriate). On the other, as a Dad, I am wired to hear every sound they make and amplify it times ten in my head. It’s almost as if they’re on stage with me. I remember having Sooz bring Ella to see me in a one-man play I did called Heckler. Ella couldn’t have been more than a month old (what were we thinking?). Sooz put her in the sling and for the first act all I heard were her tiny little grunts and burps – you know, baby noises. Then, in the second act, Sooz stood in the aisle of this little theatre doing the Mommy dance with Ella in the sling. I’m still surprised I got any of my lines out.

Anyway, with the kids in the balcony, it wasn’t a big deal today. But the audience! In the second act, Frank has an aside in act 4 just before Kate’s outburst at Petruchio’s house. Today, the ladies he spoke to almost answered, and I took a comic pause while he finished up his little tete a tete with them. Then he looked at me surprised and said “Oh, sorry!”. Later, in the 4.5., I usually give Tom a comic take on the line “That have been so bedazzled by the (TAKE) sun!” Today, in the pause where the take is, an older woman in the front row said quite audibly, and with good humor, “Oh, whatever!” So I just took her in as the audience roared, and then I slowly shook my finger at her, as in, “Uh, no . . . ”

Isn’t this the magic of theatre – the irreplaceable live event, the thing that happens only once forever, the suddenly familial bond between actor and audience?