Personal: Musical theater is not like baseball, except when it is

In some ways musical theater is not like baseball. There’s totally crying in it, and if something flies into the audience, you can’t keep it.

In other ways, it’s totally like baseball: getting into the minors is one hell of an accomplishment in itself, the journey to your goals can be a long one, and there’s a lot of mythology to play with along the way.

Dogboy & Justine, the full-length musical version, completed its first (and nearly sold-out) run yesterday. We got what we wanted out of it — a good show, and lots of learning from the audience, the actors, and the rest of the team about what to tweak next to make it an even better show.

I personally discovered what was apparently obvious to everyone else, which is that I like, and am fairly good at, producing. It was also a tremendously character building exercise for me; I am absolutely a more capable person, with better self-esteem and better boundaries than I was three weeks ago, which is really good considering the ways in which musical theater is not like baseball (look, I cry very easily) and we’re no where near done with the show’s life-cycle yet, which means if you didn’t catch it this time, there will be other chances to see it.

I also discovered that no matter how much of an introvert (people exhaust me) and a natural complainer (I’m a NYC-native for heaven’s sake) I am, I do genuinely like people, enjoy their company, am fascinated by their foibles, and want to do right by them as much as possible.

Other facts, which aren’t really new discoveries, also remain: My life is largely defined by its propensity for small world theater and freakish synchronicity, and I do the stuff I do for lots of reasons.

A lot of those reasons aren’t necessarily “good,” even if they’re really human. They include vanity, and a need to feel like I actually exist. Some of the reasons are also pretty murky, because the desire to make an impact and the desire to tell stories about people like me and my friends — that’s vanity too, even if it sounds more altruistic than fame or success.

So I’m not gonna lie and say I didn’t enjoy all those moments in the American Theatre of Actors lobby where people were complimenting what my collaborator and I, and the whole creative team, made happen up on the stage. I loved that. The truth is, is that if you make stuff, those moments are like food.

But every once in a while this past week someone said we made an impact with the piece in a way that meant so much because it wasn’t about me — or any of us but that audience member — at all. The experience of that type of feedback, on some level, is about finding out I was able to help give someone else the stuff I’m always trying and failing to find for myself and instead tend to find in other people’s art.

That sentence is outrageously convoluted, but if you both like stuff and make stuff too, you probably know what I mean. And if you were there, and were one of those conversations, I hope we get to continue it (this is, in fact, being posted here for that very reason, and also to wrap up this round of D&J intensity, before this blog goes back to other subjects).

So thank you so much — if you came to the show, worked on the show, or just had patience with this space while I haven’t had as much energy for it as I would like. I still have a lot of administrative wrap-up to do, and I’ve an essay due this week for an anthology, but we’re almost back online here.

See you soon!

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