When I was asked to come in and read for the part of Bobby Child, I never thought I would actually get it. I know that I shouldn’t think that way. When you are in contact with someone who teaches you something negative like this when you first start out, it is a hard thing to stop hearing in your head. Over the past few years, I have been trying to keep my distance from such people so I can retrain those bad thoughts.
This show has been a challenge and a chance for growth. It has had some great highs and personal breakthroughs as well as tons of self doubt and bouts of panic. What makes the whole thing incredible is the rest of this cast and staff. I am surrounded by unbelievably supportive, upbeat, and talented people that helped me through all of it. I adore them for this. When I speak of personal breakthroughs, I gotta say, I don’t feel like I have ever connected to a character as much as I have to Mr. Child. It has been said that this show was simply a fluff piece. I think of it differently. Like I thought of JC Superstar, it is a show about Love. Love is the greatest thing to fight for. Bobby has this tremendous love for theatre and an unquenchable need to be part of it. The first time I said the lines “Because this is my life. It’s all I care about.” aloud, I got that choking feel that one gets when you want to cry. Throughout this two and a half hour show, everything that he does to help just falls apart. So by the time he makes his way back to New York, he is not in the best state of mind. The producer that he auditioned for doesn’t want him. The show that he tries to put on doesn’t sell any tickets. The theatre that he was trying to save is getting sold to a forward thinking business man. The girl he falls in love with “sticks the knife in” when she says that there isn’t any reason for him to stay. After all of these failures, this guy still has a tiny bit of hope. And where there is hope, there is the will to fight.
The song “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is such a fantastic song and it’s so upbeat. It’s about remembering every detail of this girl and their time together and knowing that there is never going to be a relationship. Whenever I hear it in the context of this show though, I feel like it is missing something. I know it’s probably just me being the weirdo that I am, but the song comes after all of the stuff in the paragraph above has happened. The first time we worked this scene, I couldn’t get through it because it made me so sad. Even just talking through the song had me weeping. It’s tragically romantic in a way and I began to think about my life and connections with this song grew into something heavier. As we worked through it, I began to dig deeper into what multiple disappointments feel like. What does the ultimate disappointment feel like? This man shouldn’t be so upbeat. He’s come to the realization that Mother has “won” and he must stop dreaming of a life in theatre and work in a bank. I believe there needs to be some weight to this song. I am so lucky that our Music Director, the AMAZING Joe Kelly, lets me slow the song down. The challenge there is if you sing it fast, you get it over with like “I don’t care, but deep inside I really do.” If you slow it down, you get to sink into the sadness a little more which could get you caught in that space where you full of emotion, but not holding out the notes. What I love about that is it makes you fight to get the train back on the track which, I hope, translates to Bobby Child accepting the cards dealt and heading home.
I love this well intentioned guy who doesn’t always think through every scenario. He dives right into half baked ideas. He believes in the theatre wholeheartedly. But most important is that he never gives up the fight. It was a part that was never on my radar of bucket list shows, but I cannot say how grateful I am that Bill Starr asked me to come in for this role. I have never worked so hard to try and get something right than I have on this show. It’s like playing yourself, but you can’t BE yourself and that makes it so much harder than being a whole new character.
Then came Opening Night and suddenly all of the weight of the work seemed to just disappear and while there were flashes of panic (mostly during some insane costume changes that only worked once Saturday night showed up), we put on a helluva show!
The show runs weekends through July. Click for ticket info!