For the past five weeks my wife has been gone. In that time I have had to be single father, sole money maker, cook, cleaner, cheerleader, doctor, taxi driver, and so many other things. All of which I do so willingly.
During the time of my wife's absence she has been off working on a professional theatre production on the other side of the state. For years I have told her that I think she is by far the most talent actor that I know. You may say I am swayed by the fact that I married to her, but it is something that I said long before we were married.
Two and a half weeks of rehearsal with full day schedules. This wasn't just "play", but serious work. A true job. Comparing this to what many of us do in community theatre would be like comparing flying a Boeing Dreamliner to flying a paper airplane. This is not to say that community theatre is not work, but what she has been doing is a whole different level of commitment.
So, two and half weeks of rehearsal with three weeks of performance. It doesn't seem like the longest run. Almost easy if you think of the total duration. But I know otherwise. I heard the strain, the panic, the stress, the hope, the separation from the family, and the chaos of getting up to opening night. There is always the question asked, "Is this worth it?" I'm never surprised when I hear that question. I know it's coming.
Opening night came and I took my drive to the other side. Five hours of sitting behind the wheel after a day of seven hours behind the wheel of the company truck. Why? Because that is what you do. Well, that is what I do. I made it to the theatre and had a few moments to see the lovely woman who deigned to marry me over a year prior. And then I had to wait. Wait for the curtain. Wait for the lights to dim. Wait for her to arrive on the boards. Wait for the proof that I was right.
I have had multiple experiences working with my wife on stage. We have played opposite each other, been in the chorus together, produced shows together, and a myriad of other varieties. I have also had the chance to watch her perform a multitude of times. Each time I watch her through rehearsals to performances I learn something. Many things. There is something about watching someone who is both a well-trained actor and a natural actor that is incredible. The past five years have been so good for my own performance skills because I have been able to benefit from all that I have learned from her.
So the lights came up and the show began. The problem is, I didn't see my wife on stage. There was a family, more than slightly broken, with a mother trying to keep it from falling further apart. This woman obviously had setbacks in her life. Her body had been skewed over time and listed a bit due to the repetitive nature of all the tasks she did for years in the home. She had habitual mannerisms from who she had been over the past decades of her marriage. There was a stubbornness in her that gave hints at an inner strength and resolve to move forward no matter what life threw at her. There were moments of bitter anger, joy and youthful exuberance, sadness, hope, perseverance, and love. There was a mother who would do anything for the sake of her family, even if it meant ignoring pains and hurts of both the physical and emotional kind.
I wanted to write about this performance that night. I wanted to tell you that it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen my wife do. But I couldn't. Not then. I needed the rest of the people to see it and make their own judgement.
But it was. I was completely blown away. There is no question in my mind that this was by far the best piece of work that I have seen her do. She made me cry and laugh within the same hour and moved the story along to tell the tale of this woman. She did it with both brutal honesty and skill. And yet, I couldn't see her "act". She just "was" and it was beautiful.
For those of you who saw this show, I am happy you were able to experience it. For those who did not, I am sorry you missed out on the opportunity.
I write this in celebration of my wife. Of her skill, of her work, of her perseverance. Samantha, you are the inspiration in my life and the love of it as well. I applaud your work and I will always continue to support it. You are the most incredible woman and I am proud to live with you, work with you, love with you, and spend my life with you.
And to answer the earlier question, yes. It was definitely worth it.
Broadway Bound, 2014