October 24, 2011.
We closed the show yesterday. Hard to believe that this long, strange experience has finally come to an end. I’m relieved and ready for a break but still experiencing post-show let-down. I did love the 90 minutes I got to spend on stage every night… the rest of it I can live without.
Anyone on Facebook knows that Saturday was one of the best days of my life. It was our second-to-last show. I got some rare and much-needed rest during the day and was also able to eat dinner before the show… something that never happened during the week. I had more energy than usual. We had about 60 seats pre-sold for our 100-seat house but by the time the show started they had sold every seat, people were standing in the aisles and several people got turned away at the door. The air was electric and the show was the best it had ever been. We had a wonderful time.
Afterwards I quickly changed in the restroom so I could go out and greet my friends. The cast and crew had dressed a little nicer that day because our Associate Producer was coming and planned to take everyone out after the show. In the restroom I heard my co-star calling my name. I came out and he said, “Come back to the dressing room!” I walked up the stairs; my stomach flipped and my body went numb when I saw Sir Anthony Hopkins standing in the room talking to my castmates.
My co-star introduced us and Sir Tony held out his arms with a big smile and a hug. Most of what was said is a blur to me; he was just very gracious and accommodating to all of us and making sure that we got lots of photos. I had a huge smile on my face and couldn’t speak except to say how honored I was to meet him. He wanted to bring his wife, he said, but she was unable to come. Then I went out to greet my friends and after a while Sir Tony slipped away in the drizzling rain with his two companions and no one in the huge crowd saw him go.
Our pianist, stage manager and house manager were all in cahoots for three days to make it happen. Sir Tony told the pianist that he was coming and they planned for the event smoothly and quietly so that my co-star and I wouldn’t find out and freak during the performance and so that the audience wouldn’t make a stir. It went off without a hitch and it could not have been a better show for him to see. The next day he texted (Yes, Sir Anthony Hopkins texts!) our pianist to tell the cast that he enjoyed the show.
After the audience left, the cast, crew and a few close friends met our Associate Producer at a nice restaurant nearby where he bought everyone drinks. I had a wonderful time meeting some new people and celebrating the show. At one point my co-producer/star and I stood by ourselves just reflecting and marveling upon the event. He said, “I almost don’t want to do theatre anymore. Nothing can top this. It’s so much work and I’d love to just go out like this.” I have to say I agree.
Yesterday was even more of a packed house. It was also oversold but, since it was the last performance they didn’t turn anyone away, so we had people sitting in the aisles and standing in the foyer. It wasn’t as good a show as Saturday although the audience was hugely responsive. I wish we could have gone out on our highest note. But, by nearly every standard, the show was a success. We played to full houses every performance. And now, even though there are things I regret about the process and even though I’m exhausted and a bit depressed, all I can do is think about how extraordinarily lucky I was for things to end the way they did. Sir Tony’s story about his own struggles with tyrannical directors kept me going during rehearsals and his appearance at my show will serve to keep me going for a long time to come.