Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Mildred to Go"

That was me in 1989.

As if you couldn't tell from the wannabe Cosby sweater I'm wearing that I purchased at Chess King.

I was 19 (19 in 1989 - - do the math for my age, it's easy) and I had a gig singing on Monday nights at a little jazz club in Knoxville's Old City named Annie's.

Yep, I was a cabaret singer before I could legally drink. Two steps out of the closet and I managed to put myself in front of a piano, down center. Fondling a mic stand

It was in the summer of '89 that I would meet the man who would become my theatre mentor, Lemmie, and through him, I auditioned for and was cast in my first show, Godspell. I wouldn't be in the theatre if I hadn't met Lemmie. I wouldn't be an actor, I wouldn't be a director, I wouldn't run a not-for-profit organization. My entire life seems to hinge on meeting that man.

But the Stephen in '89 was much more concerned with his artistic career than I am. What I mean is, after I started working in the theatre, nothing was more important than working on a play. Nothing. It cost me the one man I truly loved with all my heart. I put my love of plays ahead of my love for him. And he left. And he should have.

Luckily, I hit my head against enough brick walls to realize that people are more important than plays. Not that plays aren't important. Art is important, but as I've said many times before, at my funeral, I don't want people to look down at my cold body in the casket and say, "Wow, he had a great resume, didn't he?" I hope that they will say, "When I needed him, when I was in need, he was there. Always." That, to me, is a much greater legacy to leave behind.

So these days, as I run from work at Season of Concern to rehearsals for Karen's SOC cabaret benefit, to rehearsals for my first storytelling gig in the 2nd Story Series, I try to keep myself grounded by watching this clip of Lily Tomlin accepting her 1977 Tony Award. It's a hysterical piece of comedy and I think that what Mildred says to Lily cuts to the core of what all performers... no, all people should strive to achieve...


Java said...

She's fantastic! I love this clip.

Wonder Man said...

Love that sweater

Mark in DE said...

Its you... with hair!!