Juggling


It is the nature of this business we call Show to run in phases of feast or famine. There will be times that you have nothing booked, and you feel like you’ve lost your edge and you’ll never work again. Then there are times when you’re booked to the eyes and scrabbling to find an extra minute and a few unused brain cells so you can do all the things you’ve been asked to do to bank against those times when you can’t get arrested. It’s like a juggling act, except that some of the items you juggle are bigger, some are heavier, some are up there somewhere and you’re just waiting for them to drop, and some are coming down thick and fast. Mixed in with all the show biz balls and pins and bottles and scarves are all the personal things you have to juggle: family, friends, mortgage payments, recovering from a headcold, getting an eye exam, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas shopping – all the regular things.

I’m having one of those juggling times.

The Brand New Kid opens at the Kennedy Center next week, which means tech begins today. That’s my biggest, heaviest juggling pin at the moment. My brain is trying to nail down those last few lines that are giving me trouble, but MEANWHILE:

I’m also trying to learn a brief script and song for an award ceremony for The Meyer Foundation. That’s on Monday, so I have transferred the Meyer event lines and lyrics that are giving me the most trouble to index cards, which I’ll be carrying around during this weekend’s Brand New Kid tech. There are always long moments during tech when you have to stand there while lights are focussed, or you’re waiting on someone else’s costume change, or a sound cue is being coordinated – so that’s when the index cards will come out. I’ve also recorded the song I have to learn and listen to it in the car on the drives to and from the Kennedy Center. That takes care of the extra minutes; I’m a bit concerned about finding the unused brain cells. So the Meyer event is a major ball in the juggling pattern right now. MEANWHILE:

I’m also writing lyrics for The Last Garage Hurrah, a musical revue that will officially close Signature Theatre’s old building on South Four Mile Run Drive. I’ve been dragging the music around with me in the hopes that inspiration will strike (and it does, usually when I’m sitting in traffic); now I’ve just got to polish one number and write the latter half of the second one, and I’m done. And with no time at all to spare – we start rehearsing the week after next, and the theatre has to get the finished lyrics to the performers in enough time for them to study up beforehand. The event is December 13-16th; I’m one of the performers and I also have music to learn for the event. The lyric-writing is an active ball; the music-learning part is a great big flaming torch that’s currently airborne but coming down fast. MEANWHILE:

I’m performing at a private dinner party the first week of December and have two songs to learn for that one; I have one on CD that goes into the car stereo when I’m gridlocked (and I need a break from the Meyer material). That song is about two-thirds learned; I’m waiting on the music for the second one so I can crack on it. So one song is a medium-sized pin that passes through my hands periodically; the other is a scarf that’s hanging in midair. MEANWHILE:

I’m also emceeing a Sondheim Sing-A-Long as part of Signature’s 24-hour open house on Saturday, December 9th (sorry, can’t find a link for that one). Details are still hazy, but I know it’s a small, hard ball that’s way up in the ether somewhere, and it’s going to drop fast when it drops.

So that’s my life at the moment: passing all these things through my brain and hands as smoothly as I can, throwing some high, keeping some low, gauging the weight and the speed and the arc of each as it descends. Oh, and trying to look calm and capable as I’m juggling. The act is a little crazy at times, but I’d rather have a bunch of things to juggle than stand around with empty hands.

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