SO, there I was, standing behind the delicate and barely-there curtain stage right, waiting for my entrance cue, at which point i was staged to open the show, our little JERRY’S GIRLS revue, with the first line of song: “Light the candles, etc…”, the well-known opening to MAME, and i could see through the little peep-hole in the flimsy fabric the front row of dignitaries : David Merrick, his date Barbara Walters, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, and Angela Lansbury herself, and so many others seated at front tables……..all figures who were important in the theatrical life of Jerry Herman, the man and his music we were there to honor. Jerry himself was seated playing at the large baby grand center stage, and after my smiling a welcome at the audience, my next glance was to be at him, with another loving smile…..i remember thinkngin:
IF I DON”T EXPIRE FROM SHEER TERROR AT THIS MOMENT , I WILL NEVER HAVE STAgE FRIGHT AGAIN…and out i strode, singing and smiling…..i remember this like it was yesterday….
JERRY’s GIRLS was one of the shows that put me on the NYC theater map for a decade or two….
ANd i also remember teaching my students at NYU in the drama department that stage fright is nothing but energy….Betty Buckley taught me that in one of her invaluable classes……”RE-NAME IT” she told us…call it something else…call it magnolias, call it roses, call it ice cream call it anything but fright…..
STAGE FRIGHT IS NOTHING BUT A OPOWERFUL ENERGY YOU CAN USE TO FUEL YOUR PERFORMANCE…and ABOVE ALL: CONCENTRATE ON THE WORK…..the homework you’ve done to zero in on the motivations and purposes of the words you are singing…..make the energy work for you….
I am a thoroughly frightened person in real life, but when it came to walking onto stages in front of thousands of people through out my career, i was a warrior…
I call it the hand on the door knob syndrome: that moment before you enter the audition room, with you hand on the door know to open the door to your future…will they like you? will you book the job?
Will you be able to pay the rent next month?
I live in fear now of death and illness…all around me are dying…and now i wish to find a way to channel that energy….i do not want to live in fear anymore….
And yet th fear persists….
Life is nothing but one opening night after another,….
By Laura Fanning
On October 17, 2022
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this. I always thought that stepping out into the light that first step was like walking on to a floating boat and that as long as I was on it, nothing in this mortal world could touch me. The stage fright was worth it.
Thank you for this oh too true piece.
By Evalyn Baron
On October 17, 2022
Oh Laura…….I so appreciate your comments……xx