Imagine powering along through a show, the second one of the day, having already performed early in the morning. You’ve done the show over a hundred times, and as much as you fight against it, things are becoming routine...and then-
the power blows!
no lights. no sound.
oddly no scared, screaming children...
You blurt out what you hope to be some magnificent segue, a bit of improv in the moment, something that someone will hopefully take and run with in case the power comes back on, or at least something to justify leaving the stage...only it’s lost in the cavernous arena with families hundreds of feet away, starting to wonder out loud if the darkness is part of the show or not....
Thus was my night.
A night of confusion.
A night of lots of confusion.
A night of...even more confusion.
But a night I’m pretty glad to have had and I’ll tell you why.
See, despite the power outage, confusion as to whether the show would indeed GO ON, confirmation that the show would indeed NOT go on, the entire cast getting out of makeup and costume and the crew setting up for the top of the show the next morning, part of the cast almost reaching the cars to leave, the power kicking back on, conformation that the show would INDEED GO ON again, everybody getting back into costume and makeup, props and sets set back to a slightly later point in the show, and finally starting the show again at said slightly later point...I actually had one of the most enjoyable performance experiences I’ve ever had.
No lie. No Sarcasm.
I live for moments where I can feel as alive as I just did on stage, or heck, anywhere for that matter...After that power kicked back on I had what felt like one of my best shows ever.
Live theater happens-
-and when it does, it’s moments like that that remind you where you are, what you’re doing, and who you are doing it for.
Hundreds of families sat for an hour, hoping that the money they had saved and spent on the show, parking, food, t-shirts, hats, and more was not just wasted, hoping that the time they took off work to spend with their children or the one night a week they have custody of their kids was not spent in vein.
The moment I went back out on stage, it was like I knew the audience a little better. Even though we were backstage and they were in their seats during the darkness, we had just experienced something unexpected together...no one knew it was going to happen and I’m not sure anyone even knows yet how or why it did (power actually went out in the whole town), but the connection was there.
That connection is what I love about live theater. It’s knowing that everyone is living in the moment together, and though I’m certain that most of my cast and crew mates would have preferred the early release, I for one am grateful that the show went on! It’s always nice to get a little unexpected jolt in the right direction every once in a while.
UPDATE: Apparently the power outage involved a blown transformer and a very unlucky squirrel...