The first memory was stirred by the dappled light softening the sharp angles of the building. Then the archway, framing stairs and illuminated trees. The whoosh of the door as we entered the cooled space, then a quick clatter across the courtyard. Down the stairs, second door. Seats chosen for sight lines and likely encounters with significant mentors.
But the excitement really began when I smelled the grease paint. Did you know you can smell the grease paint from the back of the orchestra? No, I’d not have thought so either, but there it was, signaling the ‘places’ had been called though they had entered silently enough for us not to hear.
By the time the orchestra began and the curtain rose, we were 17 again, full of all the excitement of opening night. The choice of show hadn’t much excited me: No, No Nannette. But the director and choreographer always did have a penchant for the 20’s, so we knew it would be nicely over the top.
And it was all I could have hoped for.
A cast of thirty cleanly tapping through the second and third act finales. Soft shoe, Charleston; a male lead who was ballet trained, had a strong clear Broadway tenor, and who knew how to play the ukulele. Role after role offering a space to shine. Such a good show for a talented cast: no one part to stir envy and resentment; but song and dance enough for all. And as always: the real star of the show wasn’t the pretty young thing who got the lead (though she was splendid), but the larger less-beautiful woman whose acting held us captive as she moved the show from frivolity to deeply embodied loss.
I loved every minute of tonight. The music, the dance, the people we saw. Even silly things like the grain of the carpet, the colour of the walls and the shadow of the wire chairs on the tile floor.
There may be nothing the feels quite like a Midnight Eucharist that opens up the numinous, but that moment of hush backstage as the curtain falls comes awfully close.
And in truth, I suspect most of what I know about liturgy began here, amidst dreams and greasepaint, before a thousand goodbyes.