Saturday, September 29, 2012

Press Night.

"We don't really have opening nights like you have in America. We have what's called press night."

It was very low key.

In fact, there was no photographers present at all.

Darren Day as Gideon from The Last Session.
Photo by Robert Workman.

We all quietly arrived. Everyone was escorted in. Everyone terrified by the presence of critics.

They actually matter here. I think. I'm learning.

A.J. Dean as Buddy in The Last Session.
Photo by Robert Workman.
After it was over, a smaller group of both friends and family in the same building, next door -- The Actor's Center -- and drank a few brews together. No big toast or cake. 

We did exchange "opening night" gifts, however. I handmade mine and handed them out. They had cuttings from the original "old red plaid bathrobe" mentioned in the script.

During the show, I couldn't enjoy it as I had the first public performance the day before. Then, I was awash in tears. I was reliving the songs and totally involved in the acting and singing. 

A.J. Dean and Simone Craddock from The Last Session.
Photo by Robert Workman.
But press night, my stomach was in an uproar. Something that got a laugh last night didn't get one tonight. Are they responding? Is it too hot in here? (It was, but they fixed it later). Are they getting it? Do they hate it?

And I was told London audiences do NOT do standing ovations. They are reserved people. (We actually did get one that night. From about four rows back and up.)

Finally, I stood on a little landing, just as Rob and Simon were about to take me back to their home, and I said, "I just wanted to say how much this night means to me. It was just a couple of weeks ago, when I was writhing in pain, sick of fighting and fighting, that I had reached the same point, emotionally, where I was when I wrote these songs. Like Buddy says in Friendly Fire, 'You don't know if you're gonna live, but most of all, you don't know if you want to.'"

Simone Craddock and Darren Day in The Last Session.
Photo by Robert Workman.
I spoke about each of them. How proud I was of their work. How it was the best production imaginable, beyond my wildest fantasies.

I could feel tears coming to my eyes. I wished Jim had been there to rescue me with a punch line. 

Instead, Darren Day walked over and put his arm around me. He said he's never been in a show, before, that had no 'filler' songs. That they were proud to take our baby and protect it.

Emotional outpourings are not the British way. And I get that. I tried to respect that. I really did. I could see so much in his eyes that didn't need to be said out loud. It's there in his voice when he sings. It's in all their voices. 

Lucy Vandi and Darren Day in The Last Session.
Photo by Robert Workman.
I fell so in love with them all. I just wanted it to go on and on, and never stop. And Darren is a genuinely kind person. He wasn't neurotic at all about this being his "comeback." He just quietly does his job. And he's soulful and appreciative of his own bonus round. Maybe that's why we connect.

Everyone applauded and we all quietly hugged and left. Walked down to the train station, and right there, I had the best thing of all. Something I had wanted from the beginning, but never got around to: A genuine Cornwall Pasty. A chicken meat pie. The crust was so hot and flaky.

I fell asleep on the train home. They woke me up and we drove home. I woke up early and played with their dog.

Had a slight panic on the train to the airport. Couldn't remember where my passport was. Found it. 

10 hours later I was on my couch with Jim and Steinbeck, which is the best place of all.

Thinking back, the purity of the moment we had there at the end, after the show, would have been spoiled by photographers snapping all around us. It was a genuinely felt moment. One I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

BTW, even though the Time Out review said I was the star of this show, Jim says it's okay. He's the star of Zero Hour and Character Man. I should get at least one show, right? (We split Big Voice: God or Merman? down the middle).

No, the real stars are on that stage for the next month. 

Reader, I do hope you get to see and hear them.

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