ActorQuest - Kristin Huffman Goes Inside 'Company' 11
In November, Kristin Huffman made her Broadway debut as Sarah (flute, piccolo and sax) in John Doyle's production of Company. The actress, with a new series of tales that go inside the making of Company from an actor's perspective, starting at the Cincinnati Playhouse and on to New York, continues her stories about a 15-year career that has led her to the door of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
This is the 11th Story about the making of COMPANY. If you haven't read the previous stories, go back and do so and then rejoin us here!
SCENE ELEVEN: WE ARE PACKING UP, WE ARE MOVING OUT - April 14, 2006
It's a beautiful Spring day in Cincinnati, and I woke up the morning of our last show here ready to go home to my life. But I was having a hard time packing it all up. Not just my clothes. The whole experience. It just wouldn't fit in a couple of suitcases.
Truly, this has been the highlight of my theatrical life. I know that Broadway will be great in its own way, but this particular experience will never happen again: the trepidation of the cast on arrival, the angst of that first rehearsal, the awe inspiring work of the cast and directors and the bonding of the 'company' that ensued. Could that ever be repeated?
When we come back together to rehearse for the Broadway version of Company, I know we will be excited, but it will be tempered by these months together in Cincinnati. I know for starters I want to keep two large items - namely, trust and affirmation. They will be important in New York. Oh, and the continuing encouragement to develop our characters as well as our relationships with each other.
Building on what we have learned here will be a challenge. We will have five months off before returning to rehearsals in New York. But another big hurdle will be the separation anxiety. I usually finish a show and say goodbye and just move on. Again, the packing up is stalled.
It may be hyperbole to say this experience was comparable to climbing Mount Everest with a company of good companions, struggling to get to the top, but that's how I feel. That bonds a group in a way that other theatre experiences, no matter how great, have not. John Doyle's directing style was a group process, a collaboration rather than "doing what the director tells you to do." In a sense, this outstanding show came through the collaboration of its composer, director, cast and many others. Two heads are better than one and in this case twenty are better than one.
Can't seem to get my makeup all packed up. What to do with random items that don't really fit in my suitcase? What food should I try to take with me and what should I just throw away? Can't seem to make any decisions. I am sure that in my more rational moments I will recognize this as my being overwhelmed by the task before me of packing up all the emotions and keeping them zipped up so that they don't cripple me when I get home. But for now all I can see is that my shoes don't fit in my stinkin' suitcase!!!
I know why I am so emotional. This was something that would be hard to replicate. Even on Broadway. But if anyone can make work a miracle and inspire us to new heights, it would be John Doyle. "Broadway-Bound" looks great on paper, but only those of us in this cast, right here in Cincinnati, will understand why there is a sadness impeding our packing up process. Maybe in a small way, I have been able to convey the extreme tension, excitement, hopes and dreams of all of us to those of you who have read these journals. Maybe you can also understand the loss that goes with the gain in something like this. It has been my delight to share it with you all.
And just to temp fate, or prove I can do it, I am boiling the left over eggs I have so that I can take them with me. My multi tasking skills have improved dramatically.
("ActorQuest" continues next week with the East Coast preparations for our Broadway production. And then, all the Broadway stories after that!)
Photos by Fred Rose: 1) Elizabeth Stanley and Barbara Walsh; 2) Kelly Jeanne Grant, Kristin Huffman, Keith Buterbaugh and Amy Justman; 3) Rob Cunningham and Angel Desai; 4) John Doyle; 5) springtime Cincinnati bird