This is the third and final column by Paul Weinstein chronicling the run of his play A Moment Too Soon, which closed after a successful Off Broadway run on October 8. For the full story, please see part one, A Moment Too Soon, and part two, The Show Goes On.
The night of our second to last show, I went out drinking with my director and a cast member. We talked a bit about the show, but mostly watched the Mets' extra-inning playoff win. This wasn't the first time we'd gone out together and we had become close enough that there wasn't a need to make idle chatter about the next day being the last show. We watched the game.
While making a joke, not even about our show, the bartender asked if we were in a show. I asked her, as if I couldn't tell, if she was an actress. About 30 seconds later I was reading her credits on the back of her 8x10.
After the Mets had won, and at least one too many rounds of beer, I started talking to the bartender. She was full of questions about how to break into the business. I really didn't have many answers other than "just do it" or "you gotta be in it to win it". After a few more platitudes, I stared her down and told her, "don't let anyone or anything get in your way." I told her, that after 18 years of letting things get in my way, that's what I finally did. I invited her to come to the last show as my guest and she could meet the cast and talk a bit about the theater. She said she would. She didn't.
Even while the last few lines of the last show were being played, I was wondering why the bartender didn't show. I thought that if the same invitation was extended to me years ago, I probably would have done the same - not show. I hope she finds her dedication and ambition sooner than I did.
"Aren't you sad?" was the question thrown at me more than a handful of times on that last day. Patiently, I told friends, family, and strangers that I wasn't in the least sad, because this wasn't the last show I was ever going to do. This was the beginning. There were too many ideas for my next show swirling around in my mind. That was my story and I was sticking to it.
Honestly, though, I wasn't sad because I was relieved that the whole thing was over. It's inevitable that things go wrong before, during, and after a show. Hearts and promises get broken, expectations turn to regret, and dreams are hard-pressed not to turn into nightmares. I knew all those things would be part of the struggle, but if you've read my previous postings on Talkin' Broadway, you'd know that I've had to put up with more than my fair share of heartache.
I asked the four cast members and the Stage Manager to stick around after the show for some wine and cheese. They scattered like the proverbial rats on a sinking ship. Two cast members stayed but one just sat and drank while we were striking the set. After about an hour, the stage was bare and two wine bottles were empty. I still wasn't sad.
Today, my director and I, returned the costumes and the borrowed furniture, and I paid the balance on the theater. The only two things left to deal with; the lawsuit I plan on bringing against my publicist, Ellen Zeisler, and the most important thing - the future.
Oddly enough, my director, Chris Pelzer, and I went to a screening of Billy Elliot after we returned the rental van. It's kind of a mishmosh of a film somewhere in the midst of Rocky, The Red Shoes, and Eastenders. The reason I mention the movie is that it's about an 11 year-old who stops at nothing to become a ballet dancer. While the closing credits were rolling, I thought of the bartender who didn't come to my show.
I'm not going to end my Talkin' Broadway trilogy on a sad or melancholy note. There was such a deep and personal sense of happiness and accomplishment invested in the show, that I'm not sure how I can describe it. Happiness is spontaneous. Tears of joy are harder to explain that tears of sadness. There's always some profound reason for the sadness whether it's immediately apparent or not. Hey, I'm getting way too ponderously philosophical here. Now, let's get back to the show
There's a lot more I'd like to say, and I'm sure V.J. would let me ramble on for another 800 words, but I'll leave the stories for my next show and the next and the next. I thank V.J. for allowing me the space for this epilogue and the opportunity to do what I want to do - write.
I'm starting on my next show in the morning. I'm aiming to produce it in the spring.
If anyone wants to get on my e-mailing list, write me a note, send me a headshot, give me a writing job, produce my last show, produce my next show, or whatever, you can contact me at email@example.com.
Break a leg!
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