Wednesday, May 03, 2006

10 Yrs Ago: RENT & Jonathan Larson

From May 3, 1996 comes a very emotional moment:
"Thursday night on 48 Hours, a TV show here in the States, there was a story on the new Broadway show, Rent. It opened off-Broadway to sold-out houses, opened on Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize. The man who wrote it, Jonathan Larson, however, died of an aortic aneurysm the night before it opened. He never saw the success it would go on to enjoy. I could tell Jimmy was shaken up a little by the story as he worries so much about me."
Jim and I never talked about me being dead, or dying. The subject never came up. As Gideon say in The Last Session, "You're Irish. And If the Irish don't talk about something, it doesn't exist."

So, I remember this moment as the story played out the TV. I could see him visibly shaking as "the thing we didn't talk about" was being talked about. The elephant in the room had just stood up and was knocking pictures off the wall and crushing the furniture. I had to say something. I couldn't let it hang. We would have to talk about it. So, I handled it like we handle things. I threw in a punchline!
"I shouted to him, 'Don't worry. I'm gonna see our show open. I'm too vain to miss how much the world is going to love this.'"
I was just blowing hot air, of course. At that point in time, TLS consisted of a script and a 99-cent tape from Radio Shack. We hadn't even done a workshop, much less put together a plan for a New York production. Still, I dreamed on. I wrote:
"I have already seen the opening night. I have already accepted my Tony. The victory has taken place in my mind."
And it was true. They call it "visualization" now. But, for me, I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew death was hovering, so I defeated it by accepting my Tony Award mentally. I was already there for opening night. The victory of The Last Session had already happened in my mind -- after this after one staged reading! But time speeds up in the Bonus Round. There was no way I was going to let this virus defeat me.
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The Steve Show #screamcry

My first show since my surgery. With Blake Zolfo.