To say it’s because I was once a paperboy would be to have missed the forest for the trees. But what a forest it might have been!
I’d visited the theatre to see the roadshow performance of “Newsies,” probably my favorite musical of all time. Despite it being the thrill it was, the experience was more nostalgic in part as I wondered so much of what might have been. At times it was hard to focus on anything but the cold bare stage of my mind, the tears in my eyes and all my performances that never were, and never will be.
Had I gone with a story of the enthusiastic moment, this would just be a five star review of the show that I sat down to write after arriving home following a backstage tour compliments of paperboy actor, dancer and friend, Chaz Wolcott, whose shoes and life that night filled a vicarious silent void in my history. But I was tired and went to bed. I hadn’t been up til 1130pm in months.
I’m far from being a whiner, but what happens when a middle aged man looks back and wonders how things might have been versus how they are can induce some sad moments.
I do good things these days that make me happy with what I produce for the world. Needy and deserving people get a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and hope in their hearts that things will be better. I’ve no apologies. I’ll never be rich or famous doing what I do, but then I’ve never aspired to wealth and fame, just fulfillment.
But among the many epiphanies of the evening, most notably: We need to escape. Like some of us, young actor Chaz Wolcott has a vision for his life. Me? I now just dream dreams of what might have been and do that to which I’ve been called. The only differences between the two are talent and time and a lot of it.
Visions are dreams of what may come. Dreams are visions of what might have been.
For as long as I remember, I have yearned to act, sing, dance and move about a stage like all those Newsboys and so many other young men of youth and vision on that stage.
I’m 30 years their senior, terribly out of shape and, if I am honest, somewhat regretful I never mustered enough of that vision when I was a young man. Had I been more comfortable with myself, I might have parlayed the handful of parts I played in school theatre into a performing career. But I didn’t and I think I may die wondering why.
The escape into musical theatre or the stage itself is a magical thing. As much work as it is to memorize, rehearse, travel and perform, I always regarded the work as a small price to pay for what I imagine to be an incredible freedom to make people laugh, smile, cheer and savor perhaps just a single night of escape from a busy work week. The musical theatre experience leaves me refreshed, inspired and motivated…and still dreaming.
So here I am. 530am. Getting caffeinated at the keyboard, planning for the poor people who will walk through my door today and playing an occasional escape game of Trivia on my phone…and dreaming just a little more about what might have been.
Life is wonderful. Musical theatre reminds me of this and the importance of escaping into a dream from time to time..
And to think, I almost missed the forest for the trees, forgetting that all the world’s a stage, and I’ve already been cast.