Thursday, March 24, 2005

Peter Pan unveiled

Well, I guess it's most appropriate for me to now comment and capture my Broadway, er, my RiverPark Center debut in the production of Peter Pan.

Suffice it to say that I am very pleased that I got involved, and that my first role had more of a significance than I initially hoped.

Let me first summarize that this is my first ever appearance in a theatrical production on stage. So here I am, 33, never have acted much less "danced" on stage, and I'm playing in front of a nearly sold out crowd of say 1,000-1,500 people.

Ok, having got that out of the way, let me comment on my experience. I certainly recall entering the first day of practice that I was indeed out of place. I'm sure I was perceived as an area homeless man strolling in off the street, with my personally iconoclast frayed blue jeans and probably a New Orleans Jazz Fest shirt from 2002 or 2003. Those are about the only two t-shirts I wear out of the house. Everyone else was wearing leotards, dance shoes, and appropriate dance practice attire. I'm sure they perceived me to be the loser.

As if first day of practice dance attire malfunction in choice was not enough, need I mention the fact that this was a dance production, with minor acting involved? Hey, I got involved because I wanted to be the guy that would appear cool after the production because he did such a good job standing in the very, very, very back for 30 seconds of the two hour production!? Oh geez, that first day of practice illustrated that I was going to be the one that would have to be learned in dance moves and theatrical performance. Well, of course that's what I'm after in my theatrical career, but I did not want to achieve that in my first ever performance!

Practice, practice, practice. What I learned over the month or so of weekend practices was that it would all be worked out, very methodically, by practice. The first practice is the dump day, the dumping of all of the moves, lines, acting, etc.. into the empty skulls of the performers. Sure, let them sort it out over a month or so and then give the public what they want.

And we did. I was able to wonderfully, if I do say so myself, piece together the parts of the puzzle rather successfully. (Did I mention I did the worm dance move in the first scene at dead center frontstage?) The evidence presented by my 5 year old does not have to be proof enough, for even my third year law student wife was amazed by my, no, our production of Peter Pan. It must have been because I shewed away my traditional jean practice garb for a more acceptable presentation of dance attire: uh, well some black Starter jogging pants and black slip on shoes was as close as I could get!

It was nice doning a new identity for a while. I know I sought that by being involved in the production. It must be the essence of the creative, theatrical mind, in this case. How do you interpret your role? What value do you give to your movement, your dress, your demeanor, your blackened teeth? I'm so glad I decided to learn about the history of pirates prior to the show. Most importantly, I'm glad I found that listing of pirate quotations, and used the "Arghhh! Kiss me I got scurvy!" one. That went over well with a few of the moms in the crowd.

It was certainly a pleasure to be witness to a different kind of middle/high school extracurrricular activity. I was unable to do so at that age during my academic career, but saw something quite incredible as an opportunity for teens. From the crowd they are quite graceful, as I witnessed the Dance of the Oceanic Nymphs during rehearsal. Do they know how absolutely incredible their interpretation is? For on the back stage, they are the teenagers as you and I: searching for belonging, identity, acceptance. I'm intrigued about the perspective their dance gives them on that identity they strive to achieve.

Standing offstage during rehearsal at the RiverPark Center and during the performance was a treat. My what bright lights and appearance beyond the black curtain can do to someone's persona. And for the moment or moments you are on stage, you are the catalyst of entertainment for those seeking creative redemption. You, rather your portrayel of a role, dictates the link between excitement and boredom, love and hate, anger and joy. But just as in "normal" life the pinnacle of behavior, of normative action is not achieved. You give your character, as you give yourself, what you can. Sometimes it is the best, sometimes it is the most appropriate, sometimes it's not good enough. I try to leave it on the stage, as long as the interpretation lingers with the audience.

So that's how Tinker Bell flies!!! So that's how the stage feels under my feet!!! So this is what the 'backstage' looks like!!! So this is why I got involved!!! And this is why I'll do it again!!! Yes, I can mark this off my checklist of things I want to do. Hmmmm, I think I'll volunteer for the Theatre Workshop.

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