I want to avoid flippancy and sarcasm, because that would be too easy and not what I am after. But there is little chance of getting around what the performance was. It was mostly a singing recital, a hodgepodge of musical theater standards with some musical theater acting thrown in (big arms, big eyes). It was produced by the performers’ voice coach, a woman addressed always in person and on paper as “the fabulous”. The theater was a few steps off the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which is venue to dozens of street performers of varying talent. The theater company was comprised of, I must assume, hopefuls: Hopeful 11- and 12-year-olds with their stage moms and dads mouthing the words to the songs, hopeful twenty-somethings with their day jobs and boob jobs, and hope-is-not-lost forty-somethings, with a string of soap opera and sit com appearances after their names. The kids and I attended in support of a friend of a friend, a sweet girl from England and Detroit, whose first name is a composite of two nicknames. That might have been her parents’ doing, but it skews very “theater” nonetheless. I recognized a mom from my kids’ school on the stage. She had had appearances on Night Court “before kids”, as the program notes told us. “Knock-out” was the term that first came to mind when I first ever saw her: Lots of very blond locks, lots of curves, fussy shoes and lots of pink. “Knock-out”, I am sure, was never used in reference to me.
I was embarrassed for each person on stage. The break dancers in front of the Adidas store was better entertainment. I looked over to my companion ready to ask if we should just go. I was waiting for the sounds of yelling and things being thrown to come from backstage. But the yelling and throwing never came. The performers were not visibly embarrassed or dissatisfied, whatsoever. They gave their performances every last ounce. Each off-key note was sung even louder and given some falsetto, so as to make you wonder if it was you and not the note that was wrong. “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a big mistake and nobody will notice” That very well could have been the last bit of fabulous direction they received before going on stage. As well as, “The audience paid their money, they’re likely to stay to the end and they’ll applaud whatever you do, because this is Santa Monica, not Manhattan.” And my companion seemed okay with what was happening up there. He’s from the next generation, so maybe he understands something I don’t. Maybe this is a post-ironic era, when we just skip Will Ferrell giving an excellent performance of a lousy performance and move straight to the bad performance. That Sanjaya kid comes to mind. But I am a hopeful, too. And I hope that is not what was going on. This is my hope.
To be a star. Look at that: The universe is about 156 billion light years wide. Light made at one edge is going to take 156 billion years to get to the other end (okay, this other Web site is telling me it’s only 78 billion light years wide. And NASA’s saying only 10 billion. Probably because NASA doesn’t get much funding. At any rate, they’ve taken a picture of it. Really, a picture of the whole universe here.) The entire creation of the Earth and the evolution and devolution of man is going to happen and be done with before that light reaches anywhere near the other end. I guess my point is, is that super stars, super nova entertainers are just tiny specks. Tiny fractions of specks. One-googleth of a tiny fraction of a tiny speck. But specks nonetheless. So sing that note. Maybe some of that note will escape the past wooden rafters, over the upholstered seats, through the carpeted lobby, over the passing cars in the street and up into 10 billion (or 78 billion or 156 billion--take your pick) light years to the edge of it all. Big arms. Big eyes. Be it musical theater, design, a blog, a business, an advanced degree ... Go for it. I'll applaud.