And that is how a career in show business is built.
With blinders on.
Or else someone else will get that job!
Especially at the beginning of a career, actors young or old will hesitate to take a family vacation or go to a favorite niece’s graduation out of town, because they might get a call-back for that local bank commercial they had three auditions for already, and that could mean next month’s rent. However, if that actor is enjoying himself on a beach somewhere and skips the call-back, they will of course cast someone else, and that, as they say, is Show Biz!
Aint’ no business like it, i feel qualified to add. In fact, I may be over-qualified, now that I am on the peaceful other side of it.
But, there was no other life for me, since the first time i stood in front of the dusty curtain at my Kindergarten Christmas Show (good little Jewish angle that I was) and sang “Holy Night”. My Daddy made my halo himself, out of a metal coat hanger and aluminum foil. The wings were Daddy-made as well.
The rest of the ensemble was a sheet supplied by Momma, freshly washed .
My Aunt would take me to local musicals, and her arm would be black and blue from all the excited punching and nudging I gave that arm all the way through dance numbers. Those people up there, that orchestra (even if it was only a piano), those really gorgeous singers and dancers…all those pretty clothes!!! So many petticoats! So much eye-shadow (even on the male dancers).
With colorful dancing shoes to match. I saw my life spread before me. I may have been sitting in the audience next to my poor beat-up Aunt, but my soul was on the stage in front of me. No question.
They used to have to drag me from my theater seat.
It never, and i do mean never, dawned on me to want to do anything else.
No kidding. Never.
Oh, after reading a Nancy Drew mystery, i may have wanted to be girl detective and ride around with good pals solving crimes….or maybe be a Lois Lane-type reporter to my very own Superman…but those were passing fancies. The one fancy that never passed?
My desire to act, sing and dance on a stage, getting all the applause i could get while standing in the middle of the brightest light possible. It was never televisio or film I wanted…it was live stage work, breathing the backstage shadows in, feeling the warmth of the spotlight on my face. And of course hearing the applause.
My parents knew better than to fight me on this, and even as she was calling me her little Sarah Heartburn, disparaging my enormous young emotions, Momma wanted it for me too, if i wanted it as much as i seemed to. And I did.
From my first engagement as a 12-year old backstage paint apprentice at Theatre of the Stars in Atlanta, to my final bow as Madame Thernardier on Broadway, and through countless roles on countless other stages, i never wanted anything else.
Oh sure, i guess i had some talent…still do, somewhere in me…but what got me through and in the middle of a genuine career? A money-earning, bill-paying, hard-working and grateful career?
My need to do it, my desire to achieve it, my yearning to keep and keep and keep doing it.
For me, there was no other life.
Retirement is nice….i can finally write all i want to….but those performing years taught me everything i know to write about.
WE should all be so lucky.