Monthly Archives: March 2009

Voicemail For Dummies

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Here’s a quick lesson in why one should always check voicemail. My post-B’way show backstage invite was cancelled when it was thought VIP political guests were coming to the show this evening. VIP political guests didn’t errr … show. My friend called me right before the curtain to tell me she put my name on a list for a backstage visit after. I never checked my vm. Just received an email from her asking where I was. One word to describe myself comes to mind: Dumbass.

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Goodbye, Darling

I first heard her crisp, regal, British accent over the phone one day while working as an intern. “Hello Darling,” she said. “This is Natasha. With whom am I speaking?” Once I gave her my name, she never forgot it in four years of phone conversations. Every time she called, no matter who answered, it was always “Hello Darling.” It felt classy and very Old-Hollywood glamorous.

I heard her voice at its most upbeat (when talking about her sons or about a film she was about to do) and at its most devastating, in a voice message she left while trying to locate her close friend (my co-worker) right after her husband, Liam Neeson’s nearly fatal motorcycle accident. The fear and desperation in her voice was chilling.

A year later, my friend became her assistant and called me to do some script reading for her. “I told her how much you love adaptations,” said my friend.“And she’s sending a book she’s passionate about.” The book was Asylum by Patrick McGrath. It came with a handwritten note and a copy of a first draft of the script. “Be honest” was all the note said. I devoured the book. It was incredible, it was the perfect story to get lost in. It would make a great movie. My notes started with “This must get made.” Natasha had an instinct and went with it. Seven years later, with many writers and directors circling the material, hoping she would give it up, she raised the money and got the movie made on her terms: script approval, starring role, producer. The movie that ended up making its way to theaters wasn’t quite the one she envisioned, but it got MADE. Despite the cries of “She’s too old to play the lead,” “The project needs a name actress,” “Can’t she get her husband to play opposite her?” She projected her passion on the screen.

I wrote her a note after seeing the film, congratulating her on her intuition and fortitude. We exchanged a few emails after that, but then lost touch. Last year I saw her at a preview of “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which starred her mother. I watched her watch her mother on stage with complete joy and pride. We exchanged a quick hello after the show, having not seen each other in five years and even then, having only met a few of times in person. After reminding her who I was, a smile lit up her face, she grabbed my hands and said, “Hello, Darling.”

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Sometimes it Gets a Little Gossip Girl

I was wrapping up on set today when I got a text message from a friend I wrote about in this post. The text read, “I did something really stupid. I went to [city friend’s] show. I feel awkward and like an idiot. Too late to leave, but don’t want to stay here alone.” The gig happened to be right around the corner (literally), so I packed my stuff up, made a pit stop in the make-up trailer (use it if you’ve got it, right?), and headed over to rescue my friend, who I knew would do the same for me.

I got there in time to grab a drink at the bar before the lights dimmed and we made our way to our seats in the darkness. Our former city friend took to the stage. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but to me she looked exactly the same. Pale, angular features against long, jet black hair. She spoke into the mike introducing herself and her band, her speaking voice in an entirely different and more “affected” register than I’d remembered. The phrase, “you’ve got to be kidding me” ran through my mind. Then, she launched into her singing, guitar playing, etc. It was … awful. By song six, I felt seasick. Everything song sounded exactly the same and she rhymed words like “dead,” and “unfed.” I felt as if I was listening to a music box play over and over again. I wanted to shut the lid.

In that brief (though it felt A LOT longer) set, I realized something. She might have grown taller, but she didn’t grow up. The singing voice was exactly the same as high school, the gestures a little more dramatic, but still reminiscent of ninth grade. Her awkward banter with the audience only exposed the fact that she carried the same baggage for the past 13 years. It was horrific to watch, but yet, it made me feel so good. I felt like an accomplished (young) adult compared to the a woman-child I saw “at play” on a stage. I had a little You’ve come a long way, baby, moment. My eyes were wide open, no longer clouded by the mystery I thought surrounded this friend. Right then, I saw her for what she really was: a wannabe, a chameleon, trying on every persona, but never owning one of them completely. I felt so high school in my bitchiness and yet, so Freud in my analysis (or would it be Jung?)

The friend (whom I rescued) and I locked eyes and we laughed and clinked glasses. We didn’t need to say a word. Sometimes, the sweetest revenge is simply showing up and growing up.

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