Climb Every Mountain

When I was 16, I tried my hand at waitressing. Convinced I would be fabulous following a triumphant summer bringing out tubs of creamed corn to kids at a Jewish summer camp, I went straight to the fanciest country club in my town. On my first night of work, I had to carry a giant tray of lobsters to a table of wealthy older ladies and gentlemen. Not concerned with this task, I confidently strode to the table. I smiled my famous smile, said hello, and proceeded to drop the entire tray onto one very large, bald and angry man. I was fired the next day.

It was at that moment I realized I should not be a waitress. I must try something else.

This past week, Sam and I found out that 3 of our most beloved Addams family members had given their notice. It had been a year on tour for each of them and each had decided for their own reasons to leave before their full 16 months were up. We flew to Thousand Oaks, CA to see them in their closing weekend. We knew we had to all be together again, one last time.

Dan, our Lurch, has a wife he adores in NYC and he said he didn’t want to leave the tour, but he didn’t want to be away from her anymore. Liz, our beautiful and talented flapper, was offered a job she couldn’t refuse in New York, and Aaron, our caveman, wanted to try to see what else was out there in the world for him as an actor. They are the most gentle, caring souls and the glue that held us all together. We all knew Aaron and Dan had our backs anytime: they were our big brothers. A huge hug or a shoulder to lean on was always available from one of them.

We are so blessed we got to see them
all together on stage one last time. Now I’m filled with an emptiness that won’t go away. Even though Sam and I weren’t with them anymore, it was so reassuring to us that we could go find them at any time, in any location, and they would all still be there together, just as we had left them in July.

I’m gonna say my peace on the Sound of Music issue: If anything good comes out of this it is that the world now knows that it is hard work to be a stage actor. It does not just require the ability to sing on key, but the ability to build a character that keeps a live audience connected with that character’s journey for 2 or 3 hours. To make a room full of people believe that it is happening to them as the characters for the very first time. Emotions, reactions, lines delivered that must be fresh 9 times a week. Night after day, day after day, and in the case of some shows: year after year.

I think the network didn’t have enough faith in us to think that we would watch only “broadway actors”. They thought that it HAD to have a famous pop star to sell it.

We would have watched it without Carrie. We have always been a society that cheers for the independent film with unknown actors, the breakout TV or movie star. We love to watch a triumphant discovery of new talent. Think of Glee or Smash. Think even about Friends or ER or Mystic Pizza.

I recently dedicated my life to getting children to be exposed to live theatre that wouldn’t be able to do so otherwise. But this is not what I had in mind. Seeing it filmed on a soundstage with no live audience cannot explain the true beauty of being in a theatre seeing it all unfold onstage.

In fact, I’m afraid it has moved the cause backward. When I tell people that Sam is in Sound of Music now, they smirk and say, oh no. Hope it wasn’t as bad as that one on TV. The words “Sound of Music” and “bad” have never gone together so much as they did this week. Even SNL made fun of the stage show for the first time ever.

The TV people tried something new. They just forgot one thing: we already love theatre. We ran out to see the movie versions of Grease, Hairspray, Chicago and Phantom. We loved Les Mis in spite of Russell Crowe, not because of him. We didn’t even care that Eponine was played by an unknown actress and not Lea Michele. The Macy’s Parade this year had just as many Broadway show tributes as it did floats. We love the Tonys as much as the Emmys. Ask anyone to sing a song from Annie. They will know all the lyrics by heart.

So TV folks: keep trying new things. Keep trying to promote live theatre. Just remember we world love to see anything on stage no matter who is in it.
Why not a live broadcast of Matilda or Kinky Boots from Broadway? Now there’s something new.

To Dan, Liz and Aaron: change is scary. Trying new things is hard. But you live and learn every day and the day you stop trying new things and taking risks is the day you stop living.

To the Addams Family: it won’t be easy going on the road without those faces on the bus and next to you on the stage. Hang in there. Change often brings about new opportunities and new experiences so don’t lose hope. Also, I love that you all still call me momontour.

We live, we learn, we try new things and learn from our mistakes. As Steve Winwood says, “When you see a chance, take it. Find romance…bake it?”

I don’t know. I can’t understand the lyrics.

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