"Life is not a dress rehearsal - every day is opening night"
- Peter J. Daniels
Let me draw you a picture. You are sitting in the audience getting ready for the performance to start. The house lights go to half and the announcement about noting the exits in the building and that there is photography or videotaping of the performance is not allowed is blasted through the speaker. Moments after thunderous applause begins, the house goes dark and the actors come out on stage. The feeling of community and experiencing the same thing with hundreds of other people feels almost euphoric. But here you are, sitting and watching live theatre happen and return again.
On Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 I had the privilege to open STOMP! Off-Broadway working as the Assistant Stage Manager. The ride to opening night was nothing but a rollercoaster of a ride. As always with any show, we didn't have enough rehearsal time and it felt like the show might not happen but as always the show opened one way or another. Throughout the rehearsal process, I was struggling and questioning what I was doing. I knew why I was doing what I was doing which helped me get through it but, it wasn't until I was sat through a show for the first time with an audience I was able to feel the magic of theatre again. It helped remind me why I love making theatre and helped me understand why I was doing this.
On July 9th, 2021 was that fateful night that I was an audience member once again. I sat in the theatre with my mom watching Springsteen on Broadway. Sitting there I was overcome with emotions. Tears were falling down my face with a smile stretching from ear to ear. I couldn't believe what I was feeling. I was so overcome with the joy of being with people again and sharing this type of experience with complete strangers. It is something I will truly remember. Then, just mere days after seeing this production, STOMP! geared up, even more, to prepare for its' opening.
I was able to go assist with a few press events. One of them at the New York Stock Exchange and the other at Good Morning America. People flocked and watched us rehearse and perform. People took their phones out and recorded what they saw and were entranced into our performance. Hundreds of people collectively experienced the same thing at the same time and many of them will have that memory saved in their minds and phones. I was able to be a part of project that was creating a community, even if it was for a few minutes, around the city. I was helping make that magic again and I truly missed making that kind of magic.
Opening STOMP! has been nothing but surreal. It has been running at the Orpheum Theatre since 1994 and helping to bring this flagship production back to the city is something I would have never expected. For the first time in a year and a half I get to say some of the phrases I have truly missed. I now get to say them at least 8 times a week and I truly can't believe I get to do this again.
Theatre is back y'all and we aren't going anywhere. We will always be here in one way or another, virtual or in-person, but, now come see us in person. The show is starting soon which means, places for the top of the show. (Thank you, places.)
*Alex after one of his days working on Stomp in March 2020