RE(nt) – Cap (All Things Foreign)

Posted: January 25, 2010 in Road to RENT

January 24, 2010

My foot is throbbing.

The right side of my head is pounding, reminding me of the rumble in my stomach.

My thoughts are clouded by the exhaustion taking over my body.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As I sit in bed, finally able to enjoy the movie that has better enlightened me on myself, I can’t help but reflect on the theatre process known as “Tech Week”.

In preparation for the opening night, the band joins the cast, a myriad of lights are flickered on and off blinding the unsuspecting cast member, and, apparently, emotions are running high.

I sat in the front row and watched the ants (technical crew) scurry across the stage. Every minute someone is yelling for a microphone check, a prop setup, actors to take their places, and the all resounding call for quietness – better known as:


I wonder if that is possible.

Throughout the commotion I can’t help but chuckle to myself at the realization of how much I really don’t know about the process. To see that there are so many behind the scene activities, baffles and amazes me.

Who would have known that they don’t just put microphones on you, cue the lights when someone is on stage and say go. The light, costume, prop and dressing crew is like a whole new world of its own. And more amazingly, they take what they do extremely seriously, speaking a whole new language that I have yet to grasp. The slightest disturbance, missed cue or step is a cause for a pause. I lean back in my seat thinking:

Wow, this is some serious cheddar.

My eyes light up, as my ears eavesdrop wondering exactly what they could be saying, trying, as hard as I can, to interpret the language they are speaking:

What the heck is mic one, ten o’clock

I foolishly turn in a circle, trying to decipher exactly where the ten o’clock is in the room. I look like a dog chasing its tail.

I can’t help but laugh at my own cluelessness.

I love it.

Seeing that most of the day is a hurry up and wait game, I take the time to hang out with the Mandarin traveler. Because of his work duties, his presence has escaped me numerous times. However, thanks to the long stretches of doing absolutely nothing, I take the time to get to know him.

Amazingly cool guy.

For once, I am not asking a bucket load of questions, trying to prolong conversation. We laugh, joke and discuss topics as if we were picking up where we left off. I feel at ease, at peace – normal. No matter the spectrum of our conversation, he is able to reach into his word bank and bring forth an equal exchange. I smile:

THANK GOD! I am getting sick of sounding like an oral examiner!

And just when I think the day couldn’t get any better he tosses me an uplifting compliment:

“Where did you get your voice? It’s so natural.”

I was slapped silent. Never had I seen my voice as anything but bullhorn loud. Many a days have found me being begged silent by family and friends who can no longer take the ringing in their ears. I look at them in wonderment, speaking:

“What? I am just singing silently to myself.”

Only to be scolded:

“You need to clean out your ears.”

Well, I did, Q-tips nearly penetrating the ear drum. I sing again. I come to the realization:


And now, someone has paid my voice a compliment. It feels good.

It’s pleasantly humbling.

I respond:

“Dude, have you heard your voice? In the song Will I they picked the perfect person to lead it off.”

His voice reaches towards the ceiling with his voice and forces the cracks to take it beyond.

Two other people tell me I need to wear a sleeveless shirt in the production. They like my arms.

Another one agrees that I should try out for Cirque Du Soleil, I strongly consider it wondering if they have open tryouts.  And just when things are looking up, the dark-haired dude steps down off the table and jack hammers all six foot one of his body into the last three toes on my right foot.

The table tips up and comes crashing down.

I feel the pain of a thousand shattered dreams travel up my leg. I reach for my foot and press my fingers into the pulsating toes, hoping to replace the pain with pressure. Voices are calling to comfort me, I try to swat away their concern as I convince myself it is only a scratch. A crew member offers me a kiss.

I take it.

She Threatened to Have me Kicked!!! HAHAHAHA!!!

I don’t fault the dark-haired dude. Mistakes happen. However, I am eternally grateful that he decided to take off his five inch platform shoes before we rehearsed the number.  And I feel worse for him than I do myself. The look of worry on his face bothers me, it was an honest mistake.

I fake smile, disguising the pain, screaming in my head:


Throughout the day outbursts are being flung from every corner. I try to comfort and soothe some away. I sing songs to people from completely different plays acting like a complete jackal. . The keyboard player begins to play the Christmas Pageant theme from Charlie Brown. I bounce back and forth bobbing my head like one of the characters.

I burst out laughing.

It is the comedy we need to get the moods back on track. It reminds me of how much I love the pressure of everything new, foreign, chaotic. And in times of stress how I love to inject myself as the comic relief. Like the time my friend became so dehydrated she couldn’t speak.

For four hours, as her eyes dashed back in forth, scared of what was happening to her, I did the only thing that any normal person would do. I made fun of her every stutter.

She hit, kicked and scolded me, through long tongue-twisted speech, but eventually she couldn’t do anything but laugh. She knew everything would be all right, and that I would move a mountain to save her. However, she also knew she needed to laugh, or stop spending so much time with me.

As the nurse ran through a myriad of questions, trying to better assess her physical state, I answered each one to perfection. And when the nurse asked:

“When was your last menstrual cycle?”

I jumped forth, seeing that the only thing my friend could do was chatter her teeth:

“Four days ago!”

The nurse stared at me, finally believing my lie:

“Oh, I guess you are her brother.”

My friend shook her head yes, glaring at me, mouthing the words:

“How did you know that?”

Disturbed at my own knowledge, I shrugged.

And when I was jolted back into reality, I came to realize something.

In everything new, sometimes, you have to find that one thing that grounds you in familiarity. Whether it be a feeling within, an instance without, or an instance that sparks a feeling within. And now, I know why I love to watch her perform.

Seconds after I tear off stage I run to the back of the theater to see her shine. I know I will miss the beginning but I still have to see her. Usually, I cringe when something causes a performance to start over, the energy in the room having to be revived, but as I run through the hall, grabbing the double doors, I hope, no pray, that the music is delayed or something goes wrong. I want to see her from beginning to the end.

I open the doors and my prayers are answered. The music director interrupts:

“Can we start that again?”

My heart rejoices and I take a seat in anticipation.

As the light hits her, she glows. Her smile rivals the joy of a first time mother. Her moves. electrifying.

As she prances around the stage I can’t help but feel that I have known her.

In her I see the smile of familiar faces. Watching her I am reminded of the competitors of my past. Through her I see the passion of a performer. Because of her this world doesn’t sound so foreign.

I can taste the vulnerability in her eyes; it is flavored a lot like mine. She pushes through her anxiety and I push with her. It’s heavily disguised behind her exterior and she uses it to bring out the naturalness of her performance. Her anxiety becomes her ally, a friend that hoists her to a new level towards her quest to perfectionism.

And even though many have done this part before her, she is made for this role. I knew it the first time I saw her.

Watching her, I guess, she reminds me of why I embrace new worlds, new beginnings and above all new challenges. She reminds me of the friends throughout my life who have encouraged me to just be who I am, do what I do, love the way I love.

No wonder, as I struggled to grasps a connection with my un-choreographed entrance, relying on pure adrenaline and spontaneity to get me through; I wanted her to watch me. I wanted to see that face that reminded me of so many of my friends scattered around the world.

The Venezuelan Marine, now in Caracas getting his Medical Degree. The British Traveler, now in Australia, after a fourteen month tour of South America. The French Ex-Gymnast, now traveling throughout Europe, taking up various jobs. The South African Swimmer, who just ended her last year in Miami. The Taiwanese roommate, who had a zest for learning. And the London adventurer who believed in me since the day we met.

I am reminded of all things foreign.

Just the way I like it.


Highlights (If you aren’t a cast member, you may not understand!)

–          The director threatening to have me kicked if I continue to mouth the words of the other performers. I laugh because it is completely unconscious. (Heavenly Voice chimes in, “That’s because he knows everybody parts!)

–          Basement Voice saying other peoples parts

–          Mandarin Traveler totally eating it before the finale, slipping on fake money. I laughed for ten minutes.

–          Nearly falling off stage practicing my entrance. Flipping and my toe landing one inch over the stage.

–          Listening to Mojo sing We’re Okay!

–          Season’s of Love – Heavenly Voice WORKING IT!!!

–          Season’s of Love place markers. Having the marker placer put my name as “Brownie’!

–          Laughing at one song glory’s back stage dance move

–          Nearly dropping Beanie Torn Pants in his lay back lift

–          Laughing at the spontaneity in La Vie Boheme. Beanie torn pants being poked, Beanie torn pants kissing one of the cast members, making us all refocus on the fun.

–          Seeing the dark-haired dude in drag for the first time, sans the make-up

–          Over the moon in her Act II outfit – you’ll see!!! (She looks amazing!)

–          Forcing myself to cry and tears actually coming out. (I was bored!)

–          Using the tall photographer as an acrobatic prop

–          Acting like school boys with the glowing ring

–          Double RENT’s compliment.

–          Mojo telling me I look good in my hat

–          Eating a Bobbie for the first time

–          Playing on the set. I could spend hours on that thing by myself.

–          Anticipating K-Ro’s Blog

–           Seeing the Seasons of Love Campaign Bricks and seeing familiar names. Makes my heart smile!

–          Sandra Bullock calling Betty White Annoying. Betty White commenting on how far a girl so plain can go in Hollywood referring to Sandra Bullock. (It’s so nice to see that some people have not lost their sense of humor and themself).



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