I can’t believe it’s here. But here we definitely are. It’s been an amazing experience coming from cupcake to Coalhouse. This is where one would put the big retrospective of the emotional journey from being the glittering cupcake in Priscilla with shattered confidence to the leading man of Ragtime with the drive of a tiger. Boring. It’s opening night and we’ve been previewing for the last 17 years. Let’s go!!!! Yes, it’s been a journey, yes, it’s been revelatory, yes, it’s been rewarding. But now it’s time to put it “officially” before the judges for the papers. And, although it would be nice to get good reviews, I realized something two nights ago . . . which I will now share with you . . . all.
An incident occurred after Coalhouse (I) get . . . well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone . . . but something happens to me that is not good. And when it happened that night, matinee actually, an audience member cried out, “no, it’s not fair, it’s not fair” (I may be paraphrasing but that was the idea and . . . well, it’s my blog so shut up.) And she burst into tears and had to be consoled by the people around her. It made me realize several things. 1. That Ragtime is an incredible show that has hit the right mix of entertainment and humanity. It draws people in with it’s romance and spectacle and structual storytelling then it makes them care so much about these people and the paths their lives take and understand how much we all depend on each other as conscious beings, sharing a space, city, country, planet.
2. We have such power as artists. No government, no haters, no small-minds, no censors can stop the art from happening. Art is evolution, it’s very nature itself. You can try to cap off art, you can try to cancel art, you can try to de-fund art, you can try to strangle art. But art is a liquid, it’s in the air, you can slap it, squeeze it, push it down, it will only splash, spill and splatter onto something else; and under the most pressure it rises as vapour, only to cling and land somewhere else. Art is the way we sort through our psyches and understand our times and our selves, our wants and desires. Whether something is brilliant or really good or just good. We reach people, we can connect dots of the human experience and leave peoples’ lives changed.
And 3. This production is affecting people deeply. We’ve done something like 25 previews (which is longer than some complete runs of some other shows) and in every single one, the audiences have been on their feet, young and very very very old, and I’ve seen tear-stained faces, huge smiles, people blowing kisses, mouthing the words “thank you”. They’ve come to see OUR show and I’ve been the one moved by how the crowds travel with us on this Ragtime journey. I’m hearing almost daily how people have come back 2 and 3 times already to experience the show again and to bring someone else to experience it with them. Elevated Humanity. That’s what we can offer them as artists and as artists in this show. A sense of knowing we are all connected. I’m so proud of this production and the effect it is having on the people who are seeing it. So whether I’m brilliant or really good or just good (or even just okay) tonight, I know I’m a part of something bigger and I’m honoured and thrilled to be an artist from Canada in the world.