Friday, June 22, 2007

Sideshow Beth

I finally discovered why talk shows and big concerts have opening acts. To warm up an audience and get them ready for the bigger star of the night. A lot of times, opening acts are quite refreshing - funny, they get you in a good mood and they prepare you for what's in store that night. But what would happen if the opening act had to wait around until the end of the show to perform? Would people stick around for their spiel? Well I learned last night the answer to that question...NO!!!
You see, about a month ago I was invited (along with my co-author) to do a reading from our book following an off-Broadway show. The offer seemed genuine enough and I instantly started conjuring up thoughts of how we would read a chapter and have the entire audience laughing so hard that we'd be on our way to instant stardom. Me, on a stage - right across from some major Broadway shows...the dream of a lifetime - or the nightmare that I'd like to never remember as long as I live?
The day of our reading, I even went to an upscale salon where I had my hair blown out while sitting next to some famous looking woman who had gotten a little long in the tooth, who was sitting there having these blonde extensions sewn into her head. Why do people do that anyway? Then, it was time for make-up. By accident, there was a slight mix-up at the salon and they put me in cue for the eyebrow lady (were they trying to tell me something) but then realized their mistake and I got to sit in the chair of the make-up woman who had just finished doing an absolutely amazing job on some really beautiful girl. When the make-up lady asked how I wanted my make-up done - I joked - can I look like her? "Well, she's Miss Mexico." I obviously wasn't going to get that look, but the woman did a great job and I felt like a million bucks. I then zipped into Ann Taylor Loft and bought a cute little dress for our special night. I was ready to knock em dead!
We arrived at the theater and we actually almost missed the place because it was sandwiched between a newsstand and I think Burger King, but that didn't get me down - this was going to be the experience of a lifetime! We climbed a flight of stairs and saw the sign for our book and I started to get goose bumps. We met the star of the show and then talked about how we'd do the reading. We then learned that we had to be out of there pretty quick because they were getting ready for another show at 10pm and then discovered that we weren't going to be the opening act, we were going on after the star. Uh oh.
This was not going to bode well since she was playing to a room of new mothers who probably had to get home in time to relieve their babysitters. And so, we sat through the one hour and fifteen minute show and the minute we were introduced, the place started clearing out - as if someone had yelled "fire in the theater" or something. As I attempted to read my chapter, more and more people left. And the parts where I thought they'd laugh, there was just silence. I tried to read as fast as I could and in my head I imagined I was in a dentist's chair having root canal. Then my writing partner read her chapter - and as she read, the room cleared out even more. By the time she was done, there were a total of five people left in the theater - and that included the star of the show.
To say I was mortified is the understatement of the year. I felt as if I had bombed off-Broadway but then I realized - I was supposed to be the opening act...not the closer! My husband actually summed it up best when he looked at me and said - "Look on the bright side, if this were the circus, you'd be Sideshow Beth."
And that was my first brush with off-Broadway - a sideshow experience where the room cleared out the moment I opened my mouth. I sure do hope I have the opportunity to go back on a stage again, but this time I better be the opening act or the main attraction. Because when you're The Closer in a room full of new parents, your pretty much dead on arrival.


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