Unlike some ex-performers, I knew which show was going to be my last. I didn't know it when I auditioned, but before we performed, I knew my theater days were over.
Before I knew it, I couldn't have imagined it. After all, I had been in many shows with adults of all ages, nearly all of which held day jobs and careers of their own. I assumed it would always be a part of my life's spare time.
Though I expected to stay at my original "career" job (one that was several different employers ago) which had a schedule that would prevent me from auditioning, I still kept a hope in the back of my mind that I would one day go back to a lifestyle that would allow me to do theater.
Then of course I had several months of free time in New York, but alas, the competition at auditions would be formidable for even the most obscure productions. I did take the opportunity to train vocally for a year with fantastic teacher, and easily the most accomplished vocalist that I have known in real life. I improved, though perhaps not drastically. That has yet to be tested.
I finally arrived at a time and place where I would have time to act, but found so little theater. Of course my free time still is not copious, and due to stir craziness and an obsession with paying off debt, I wait tables in my free time from school-work and work-work. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll even make it back as an old man. The thought makes me sad.
I guess what I find so interesting about it is that I still find that "theater people" are MY people. Like any socio-cultural group, having too many in one room can be a bit overwhelming, but for the most part, I find myself most easily relating to strangers who too are theater folk.
Because very little of my day to day focus is on theater any more and because so very few of my closest friends are truly fans of the theater, I often forget that you are my people.
One of the things I enjoyed the most when going to Marie's Crisis, a piano bar that plays only show tunes, and Musical Mondays where they screened clips of musical numbers on a projector all night while everyone sings along, was watching those in attendance. It was like an inverted disco, except I was spinning slowly in middle while a room full of mirrors reflected back at me.
The craft itself has a certain nobility to it, either to entertain and uplift, or to show us the pain in the world as we might not otherwise experience it.
I am certainly attracted by the talent. Knowing a thing or two about singing myself only makes fantastic performances that much more thrilling. I once sat in an auditorium caught off guard and in tears because I felt so privileged to be hearing what I was, live. It was "Once Upon a Time" by Eden Espinosa from the Musical "Brooklyn" (the show itself is actually kinda terrible, but I couldn't hate it).
But what attracts me the most is how I feel as I perform. Nailing that song, wearing the costume, doing the dance, getting the laugh. I love it.
So when I am around other theater people and have the opportunity to spin as that inverted disco ball, I can see myself more clearly.