HomePast ColumnsAbout
Broadway Bound

Book One
Episode 52

QUESTIONS

Roosevelt Hospital
Sunday Morning, January 24, 1999

"Robin? Are you awake? Can I come in?"

"Hi. Yes, come in. I'm not really asleep; it's all this medicine that makes me groggy. I hate it."

"I got the call from your lawyer yesterday. He said you had finally come out of the coma and you wanted to see me?"

"They told me that bastard shot you. Are you all right?"

"He just winged me before the police took him down. I'm fine. How about you?"

"The doctors said I lost a lot of blood. If they hadn't found me when they did, I'd be dead. They said the freezing weather actually kept me alive in that garbage bin longer than . . . "

"Hey, I know. You need a tissue?"

"I'm fine. One more inch to the left and the bullet would have gone through my heart. That surprised me when they told me. I didn't think I had one left - a heart I mean."

"You have every reason to hate me. I let it happen."

"I don't hate you. You're my hero. And you didn't let anything happen. When he showed up that night and said he wanted to talk, said he needed time to adjust to the fact he had a daughter, I was the one who walked out of your apartment of my own free will. I guess . . . I guess, even though I hated him, there was a part of me that wanted to believe that the daddy I always dreamed about maybe really did exist . . . "

"Believe me, I know what you mean."

"Do you? You're the writer. If you do understand, you should be able to come up with a line a little less cliched than that."

"Christ, for a second there, you sounded exactly like Drema!"

"I know. That's been happening to me more and more these last couple of days. Scary, isn't it?"

"A bit, yes."

"You are my hero, you know."

"I'm nobody's hero."

"Don't laugh. You are. When I came out of the coma and Millicent told me - she's back in town, taking care of everything for me, you know - when she told me you had been working with the police and got that bastard's confession on tape, I cried. When I heard that, I felt . . . safe . . . yes, safe for the first time in months - years."

"With a murder charge and two attempted murders on his record, he's going to be in jail for a long, long time. I just wish I knew why he tried . . . why he did it."

"Embezzlement."

"What?"

"Millicent got access to Drema's papers. Drema was the money behind your company, Neverland Theatricals. She owned everything. He was siphoning off cash left and right. It looks like she was about to discover what he was doing when she died."

"Could he have . . . was Drema's death? . . . "

"She died of natural causes. He didn't kill her. But, I wouldn't be surprised if he thought about it. Anyway, after she died, the only way he could cover his tracks was to forge her name on a will that gave him control of her estate - which he did. Drema really left everything to me. Our lawyers are filing the paperwork this week to charge him with all this other stuff. You're right. He's never going to see daylight again."

"So, Neverland Theatricals doesn't exist anymore?"

"I'm afraid not. Millicent has half the financial advisers on Wall Street reorganizing everything. That puts you out of a job, doesn't it?"

"Yep. And, you know what? I'm not sure I'm upset. I . . . I don't know what I feel."

"I know what I feel. Relief. As soon as those quacks spring me from this joint, I'm heading for the ranch - "

"New Mexico?"

"Yes. And, I'm staying there. I've had it up to here with the theatre! If I ever set foot on Broadway or the West End again, I hope somebody shoots me and does a good job of it this time."

"You probably do need a vacation."

"What I need is a real life. When I was a kid, putting on makeup and a costume and playing on stage was fun. I loved all the glamour and the eccentric and talented people. I loved being one of them and having them treat me like an adult. I was even getting to the point where I think I was a good actress. But all this has made me realize that all those eccentric and talented people - well, they may be talented but the eccentricity is really neurosis and worse. With the possible exception of you, I don't know anybody who's healthy and well adjusted. In one way or another, they're all paranoid freaks and weirdos and if I don't get out now, while I still can, I'm scared to death I'm going to end up turning into one of them!"

"Drema never did."

"Drema was stronger than all of us put together. Besides, she always shoveled the shit, but she never started to believe any of it. When you meet Millicent, you'll understand why I'm terrified and just want out."

"What are you going to do in New Mexico?"

"Sleep. Read. Learn how to ride a horse. Learn how to cook and put on another twenty pounds and not worry about it. The ranch is 60 miles from the nearest town. And, if I go into town more than once or twice a year it will be a miracle. After I get settled, you should come out for a couple of months. It would do you good."

"Thanks."

"What are you going to do now?"

"Exactly what you've done. A year ago, when I first got involved with . . . all this, I realized I wanted to be a writer, a playwright, more than anything else in the world. I think maybe I got my wish too fast. I don't know. I gotta confess I'm just as disenchanted with the theatre as you are right now."

"Good for you. Get out while you can."

"But, I'm not sure."

"Well . . . here, maybe this will help you make up your mind. Open it."

"I don't understand."

"I've signed over to you all the rights to that musical you were working on - Neverland?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Hey, I was around long enough to see what you were like when you were working on it. You were obsessed, but it was sort of a good obsession. Anyway, I did it because . . . I wanted to say thank you. If you hadn't done what you did, that bastard may have gotten away with everything. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you. You saved my life."

"You're right again. If I was really a writer, I'd be able to come up with a line right now."

"You are a writer. With a little more practice you're going to be a good one."

"Thanks, I think."

"That didn't come out right, did it? But, you know what I mean."

Journal Entry
Sunday Evening

I'm sitting here at the kitchen table trying to make sense out of the last year of my life. So far, I haven't made much progress.

My ex-partner is in jail, and likely to stay there for the rest of his life. Neverland Theatricals doesn't exist anymore, so I'm out of a job. The Theatre I built burnt to the ground. Drema is dead. Bob is dead. (I'll miss both of them - though, I'll be drinking a lot less now that Bob isn't dragging me through every bar on Broadway.) Robin has decided to give up her career and isolate herself on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere for the rest of her life.

And it's time for me to decide if I really want a career in legit theatre, or to give it up and go back to the family construction business in Jersey.

What are my assets?

1. In one year I've learned more than I ever thought possible about how legit theatre really works in New York.

2. Even though I don't have a job, I've made hundreds of contacts in the business. I kinda know my way around and a lot of people know who I am.

3. I've got the rights to Neverland. It isn't finished by a long shot, but what I've got is good enough to get a composer interested in it.

4. Surviving this last year makes me feel like I can survive anything.

Problems:

1. No job and no money. (I will not ask my family for one more penny, even if I starve.)

2. I'm scared. I don't know if I have what it takes to finish Neverland and put together a production.

3. I'm really scared. I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust anybody again. I feel betrayed by the one man I thought believed in me and trusted me enough to make me his partner and teach me the business. He was almost like a father to me. (Yes, Robin, I really do know how you feel.) If he could do all this stuff he's done, then anybody is capable of anything. Do I love what I'm doing enough to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder every five seconds to see if anybody is about to stab me in the back?

I don't know.

I'm going to housesit Gregg's beach house in Connecticut for a couple of weeks. The police said they wouldn't need me to testify or anything for another month or so. I guess I'll be taking a lot of long walks on the beach trying to decide what I'm going to do. I'm giving myself until Valentine's Day to make a decision.

Shit! Why can't real life be like a musical comedy?

It used to be a secret and the brunt of jokes that the Broadway musical recruited an underground following of gay men. In Place for Us: Essay on the Broadway Musical, Columbia University professor D.A. Miller explores how and why gay men are drawn to the "camp" and femininity inherent in musical stage productions.

Everybody "knows" that gay men love show tunes; as D.A. Miller writes in one self-mockingly academic passage of Place for Us, the original cast albums "were used, scholars now believe, in a puberty rite that, though it was conducted by single individuals in secrecy and shame, was nonetheless so widely diffused as to remain, for several generations, as practically normative for gay men and it was almost unknown for straight ones." Miller's elaborate pondering of the intersection of homosexuality and Broadway shifts between critical exegesis of shows like Gypsy and autobiographical reflections written in a curiously distancing (and, at times, generalizing) third-person voice.

Although some will be put off by the academic tone, there are treasures to be found sprinkled throughout these pages, such as the black-and-white reproductions of Michael Perelman's Broadway-inspired oil paintings. Or Miller's description of an ironic piano-bar singer, "like a third-rate magician who, thinking to take advantage of his inferior talent for illusionism, devises a novelty act in which he gives away the familiar tricks of his betters . . . out to betray the habitual prestidigitation of the whole enormous population of gay composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, and others" who coyly cloaked their sexuality in misdirection and innuendo.

Place for Us: Essay on the Broadway Musical
by D. A. Miller
List Price $22.00
Harvard University Press
ISBN 0674669908


Back


Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat!




Terms of Service

[ © 1997 - 2014 www.TalkinBroadway.com, Inc. ]