It’s somewhere between midnight and one in the morning. I’ve lost all feeling in my thumbs and can feel my toes nearing the same frigid destiny as I make the heroic trek downhill back to my dorm. Though it’s absolutely freezing and I’m so exhausted that I feel my legs are going to give out from beneath me, there’s an oversized grin plastered to my face, along with a few icy tears, and a belly full of deliciously warm mozzarella sticks.
There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating sensation of stepping (or in my case, haphazardly dancing) into a pitch-black theatre. As the lights rise, you catch a glimpse of all the expectant audience members. They’re waiting for you to tell the story you’ve been harboring in your abundance of memorized lines, subtext notes, and character choices scribbled somewhere inside your script. You’re slightly petrified and little wary of releasing this secret you’ve kept in rehearsal for seven weeks. Then you hear the first laugh, and suddenly the tantalizing fear from a variety of stage phobias melts away. You have the audience’s attention and reality ceases to exist for the next ninety minutes as you, alongside seven other wonderful cast members, tell a story of mismatched identities, overly-dramatic opera stars, a few hundred kisses, and ultimately, the tragically hilarious human experience.
Lend Me a Tenor had its simultaneous opening and closing night this past Tuesday and I cannot even begin to fathom what that night means to me yet. I imagine I’ll need to spend a somewhat lengthy period of time listening to the echoing sounds of the audiences’ laughter in my head until I can fully comprehend the scope of Lend Me a Tenor.
Right now, I almost feel numb. I’m polarized between the ecstasy of performing an excellent show and the crippling gloom that it’s all over. Even though rehearsal sometimes felt like the most arduous hours of existence, and the occasional existential breakdown of extreme self-doubt would stare me back in the mirror, I wouldn’t trade a second of the past seven weeks for anything. Lend Me a Tenor was a full-blown success. I don’t mean to brag, but Ed Rosini said we were, “A FANTASTICALLY TALENTED (and very good looking) CAST.” I can’t think of a better seal of approval.
What started in Jackson 5 with a box of donuts and twelve anxious cast and crewmembers grew into a theatrical team with a shared passion to tell this story. Without getting too sentimental, I just want to mention that I have fallen irrevocably in love with the eleven people I spent upwards of one hundred hours (yes, I counted) of rehearsal with. These people reminded me everyday of why I decided to pursue a drama major and it’s because of them that this show was possible. I don’t know if any of you are reading this or if you even know that this corner of the Internet exists, but if you are, know that you mean more to me than you’ll ever understand. I don’t even have the words to express the massive amounts of joy that bubble up when I think about all the memories we’ve created. All I can say is I love you. Like Romeo-crazy-for-Juliet love. Or Pyramus and Thisbe. Or for something more relatable, think about our director’s love for musical theatre. Now that’s a whole lot of lovin’.
After two amazing shows and a few perfectly timed mishaps (the door will remain infamous), we begrudgingly dismantled the show. As my clever cast member Rachel Canowitz so eloquently tweeted, “Set strike is the worst possible metaphor.” Nothing has hit home harder in less than 140 characters.
Though strike was relatively quick, it didn’t hurt any less. I’m accustomed to expelling all my post-show emotions through destroying set pieces with a sledgehammer, but that wasn’t necessary nor appropriate for this particular strike. Instead, I gorged myself on several servings of Helen’s mozzarella sticks with a few cast members who had the option of staying out on a Tuesday night. Even though the cynical metaphor of strike lingered over me, I’m realized that a much happier and delicious symbolic trait of this production was that started it started and ended with fried food. That, in its own right, became a slight comfort as I grappled with the sudden hole in my life where Lend Me a Tenor used to reside.
I never complain about living downhill, but this night was different. Because Helen’s is so far uphill it’s down, my walk home was a lot longer than that of my fellow cast members. During my few solitary glacial minutes of walking, I realized what we had done in seven weeks and the entirely bizarre family we had created. The tears came and I let them, as they froze to my cheeks, but I never stopped smiling like an idiot as I walked past the dimmed lights of campus, fumbled to put my key in my door with my half functional fingers, and flopped into bed without taking off my stage makeup or bothering to put on actual pajamas. Then again, I took my clothes off in front of two hundred people, so what’s more time without pants?
The point is, I haven’t been this happy in years and I’m so glad that Lend Me a Tenor was the experience that made it all possible. So here’s to making out with Peter Secrest, assaulting Daniel Camilletti, pleading with Yuval Ben-Hayun, fan-girling with Rachel Canowitz, attempting to steal Ana Baustin’s husband, confronting Nora Gair in a naked standoff, and to being photographed eighteen (well, nineteen) times by Ali Feinswog. Thank you, Kaia Smith, for your artwork and rose hunting, Mitchell Katz for always reminding me when I got my lines wrong, Rose Iorillo for your undying support in our many times of need, and Alex Kaufman for asking time and time again, “What does the fox say?”
Let’s continue to make shows together.