September 16, 2005

Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, another big storm slammed into the east coast, sending tropical mugginess up north and dumping several inches of rain up through the northeast. We've been needing it. But with the rain came grim tidings. Thursday afternoon, while the water filled the streets, our company manager called to tell me that Lennon would be closing after next week. Ticket sales had not improved significantly and the producers could no longer afford to keep the show open. It wasn't a terrible shock. All of us had seen the writing on the wall, even before the show opened in August. And the month of September is traditionally a cruel one for theatres, when traffic is slow and only the hits survive, some of them barely. But that didn't make the news any less painful for anyone. It always sucks when something into which you've put so much time and effort falls short, there's no getting around that. But it's the nature of the business. It's Real Life.

Still, it hardly seems fair, with a situation like this one that was beyond ideal, more idyllic, really. We had the coolest cast, with the nicest stage management, the most compassionate and caring directing team, everyone was hand picked for their calm disposition and positive vibe. The treatment of personnel was extraordinary, and the energy was infectious. It almost seemed too good to be true. There had to be a downside to it somewhere; a negative force lurking nearby, and sure enough there was. The story we were telling had a lot of holes, and whenever we would patch one, a new one would pop open elsewhere. When we came under critical fire early in the game, we lost a lot of support. Usually when negative and positive forces come together in equal strength, they can generate a burst of energy that will give its subject power. But the balance has to be precise. We weren't so lucky. Eventually the negatives overtook the positives and, well, here we are.

I walked into the stage managers' office on Thursday evening and found it piled floor to ceiling with dessert. Cookies, cakes and candy of every sort - Keebler, Nabisco, Hostess, Nestle, you name it, I saw it. Artie had stocked the place in anticipation of a crestfallen cast in dire need of comfort food. "Just a few things," he said. "I figured, y'know, they might need a little boost today." And that, friends, seals the deal. Artie Gaffin is figuratively and literally the sweetest man in the known universe. And he even finds time to interpret a dream or two if you can snag him.

That's what bums me out about this whole deal. My birthday's in October, and there'll be no cake from Artie and gang.