Break It To Me Gently

Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for our inability to bring you the Finale that we promised.
–Leading Player, Pippin

In the play, the promised Grand Finale cannot take place because the title character has chosen something better.  Sometimes it works that way in real life, too.

The production of Pippin in which Little Brother was one of a troupe of only 12 actors has had its two final performances canceled–for good reason.  One of the lead characters (the Leading Player) is mourning the sudden loss of a close family member.  The director wisely decided that the best course of action is to cancel the remaining performances, out of love and respect for this actor.

There are times, and this is one of them, when the show must not go on.

A cast of 12, as you can imagine, gets pretty close-knit after three months of rehearsals.  Most of the actors have known each other for quite a while already.  Definitely, the right thing to do is to close the production and focus on supporting this actor in his time of loss.

This is not the Finale we were promised.  It’s not the semi-happy ending you expect for a musical comedy.

The hard part is still ahead.  One actor has to get through this time of grief.  The others will grieve for him.  Cast, crew and band alike will miss the opportunity to celebrate a spectacular Closing Night.  It’s not the way they want to say goodbye to each other.

It will be difficult all around.  Little Brother doesn’t know yet; I’m putting it off until after school.  I didn’t learn of the cancellation until it was almost bedtime last night, and I figured that it would be better not to try to send him off to bed or school right after hearing upsetting news.  (I did tell him that the actor had a death in the family, but that’s all he knows at this point.)

Little Brother invests himself very deeply in the cast of a show.  I’ve seen it happen with The Wizard of Oz and MAME.  Even with this show, after opening weekend was over and there were no more rehearsals, he was sad that he’d have to wait Five Whole Days to see everyone again.

This afternoon I’m going to have to disappoint a little boy.  That’s nothing compared to what one actor is going through, but for a nine-year-old, it’s still a pretty big thing.  I hope that I can help him put aside his own sadness at closing the play early and focus on someone else’s sadness.

When we discussed the question of whether Little Brother would be allowed to audition for this role (the theatre is quite far away and it would be a huge time commitment) my husband observed that being in a play would be a very enriching experience.  At the time, we believed that all it would mean for Little Brother would be growth in confidence and exposure to culture.  We did not expect–surely we should have, but we didn’t–that it would also prove to be a time in which he would learn important life lessons.

Rivers belong where they can ramble,
Eagles belong where they can fly.
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Gotta find my corner of the sky.

In your kindness, remember S. in his time of loss.

One thought on “Break It To Me Gently

  1. I'm sorry for the actor's loss! Sorry, too, that the season has to end on a sorrowful note. Perhaps there can be a cast party celebrating their time together and honoring the memory of the actor's family member. Holding you close in prayer, Barb! These passages are never easy.

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