The first straight play (non-musical) I did in college was Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. That was the semester I was supposed to be taking a break from theater to focus on my studies. I only went to the audition to help out as a reader. And because I had nothing to lose I gave it my all and I got cast in lead. And so it was a wonderful surprise when my then director and former professor recently invited me to see a matinée performance of the new Broadway production of the show at The Lyceum Theater.
Hitherto forgotten lines of dialogue transported me back to the Baruch College Studio Theater and I could see and hear my fellow cast mates doing them; people I hadn’t thought of in years sprang to mind so clearly my heart warmed and ached with the memory of them. I could hear the choices they made on how to deliver a particular line and how the professional actors on stage now made some similar but mostly different ones; giving the words new meaning. I wondered how many other former Catherines, Beas, and Eddies were also in the audience.
My “Rodolpho” was played by one of the most beautiful, sweet, and captivating men I have ever known. Still. I ran into him years ago at the old Barnes & Noble in Chelsea. Looking into his eyes still gave me butterflies. (I might have converted for that man. Mazaltov, I tell ya!) On opening night, his mother – a gracious woman – made it a point to come over introduce herself to my Mom & Dad, the “parents of the bride.” If only.
I was 19 years old when I did A View from the Bridge. I’m sure I thought I understood it. But the adult me was newly astounded by the complexity of the characters, and each actor’s ability to advocate for them so fiercely. I suppose that’s the beauty of Arthur Miller. I am only slightly embarrassed by the naïveté of my teenage self; only slightly because innocence is a luxury one is lucky to have. (Yes, sometimes I miss it.)
Theatre is not my first love but it’s in my top five; onstage and off. I absolutely adore performing, but seeing a great play? That. That is pure joy. Unfortunately, the most important thing missing from this outing was the woman who’d invited me in the first place. She mixed up the dates on her calendar but insisted I go on without her and enjoy it for the both of us. I am sad and glad I did.
It reminded me how grateful I am to my parents for exposing me to theatre at such a young age. For believing a three-year old could sit quietly on her Daddy’s lap and be transfixed for 90 minutes, minus an intermission. I believe those words, performances, and experiences shaped and guided my life as a writer, performer, and human being. It’s given me an amazing view of the world.