And I know, theater is a luxury. Except it’s not. I live on Ramen so I can buy half-price tickets. I alphabetize my Playbills and I get upset if someone touches them with food on their fingers.
(They pause, pulling themselves together from the horror of this)
I go on every theater website and defend every version of Merrily We Roll Along because at least it’s an attempt. Someday Merrily will work, I have to believe that. Or I can’t move my head.
(pulling themselves together)
I’m sorry. And fuck you, Anyone Can Whistle was ahead of its time, and we are not going to talk about casting the movie version of Follies, because, fine, there’s a restraining order. But Meryl is Phyllis! Fuck Cate Blanchett!
I love theater. I can’t explain it, it’s just, when I have tickets to a show,
it lifts my whole day. It’s like a date, with someone who might be wonderful, or might be boring, or might change my life forever. You know?
Except for this past year, and I’ve been watching Zoom readings and old Tony Award numbers on Youtube and movies of great plays, but it’s not the same. Especially Zoom, with everyone in their little squares, it’s like watching Streetcar performed by the Brady Bunch. I mean, I appreciate all of those things, but there’s just not the same tingle of being right there, in a theater, with a live audience, with real live actors, and we’re all in it together, waiting to see what’s going to happen, and jumping to our feet screaming because we loved it so much and then looking under our seats afterwards to find that lady’s inhaler. Although this one time, this lady said she didn’t need her inhaler, not anymore. Because that really long award-winning Irish play had healed her. Sleep can do that.
And I know, be patient, one vaccination at a time, there are lives at stake, but then – okay, okay. Bear with me. Because it happened. Last night at 7 PM. When in the olden days, I’d be heading into the subway, on my way to a show, or just to wait in line for cancellations. But instead I’m sitting here, wondering if there are any more episodes of that Norwegian detective show on Netflix, or if that last episode was actually the ending – I mean, he killed twelve people because they wouldn’t use solar panels? But there’s a knock on my door, except I haven’t ordered takeout or anything from Amazon, you know, the new sex, so I put on my mask and I open the door and right there, standing in my hallway – it’s Hugh Jackman. I know. I know!
And at first I think, no, it’s just the hottest UPS guy ever, or I’m hallucinating, from too much Ramen, but it’s really him and he does the elbow thing and he says, “Hi, I’m Hugh Jackman, may I come in? Mate?”
(Hugh’s “mate” is especially thrilling)
And he says, “I’ve been vaccinated” and I say, but you’re too young, and he says, “Broadway stars have just been classified as essential workers” and I say duh, come right in. And he looks so grateful and he looks around my one bedroom apartment, fine, it’s a studio with an alcove, and he says, “This is lovely.” And I realize – Hugh Jackman’s been cooped up too. He’s lonely. He’s needy. And he wants to be back in a theater as much as I want to see him in one, because he asks me, “Can I sing Ya Got Trouble from The Music Man for you?” And I’m dumbstruck, I’m floored, and I say, but I don’t even have a piano and he says, “It’s fine, I brought my boombox” and he puts the boombox on my couch, right next to the five almost-empty cereal boxes and the towel which is covering the duct tape which is holding the cushion together, and he asks, “Do you know the show?” And I try not to act offended, I just find my Playbill from the Craig Bierko revival and my Playbill from when Robert Sean Leonard took over, and my original cast CD with Robert Preston and my DVD of the movie and my other DVD of the Matthew Broderick/Kristin Chenowith TV version, and my high school yearbook with the photo of me in the drama club waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon and Hugh says, “I get it.” And he’s smiling but a little like, sure, but you haven’t seen The Music Man with Hugh Jackman, so I ask, where should I sit, and he points to a folding chair and just as he’s about to push Play on his boombox – don’t you love that Hugh Jackman has a boombox – there’s another knock on my door. So I say, Hugh, I’m so sorry, I don’t know who that could be but I’ll get rid of them and I open the door and – it’s Patti LuPone.