There's a feeling unlike anything I've ever felt and it happened this past Sunday at 3:30pm. The final chords of our musical Passing Through played and I looked at our incredible cast through teary eyes as the lights faded to blackout. For the past two and a half hours, the musical that Brett Ryback and I had worked on for three years had its first reading in front of a paying audience that embraced and connected themselves to the story in exactly the way we had hoped an audience one day would.
The initial connection to wanting to tell this story was that it was something that felt essential. It was a story about a young man searching for answers and through that finding the goodness and kindness that lies within this country. Finding that we are all truly connected and more similar than we ever admit. That even the most despicable people have a humanity within them and that when we tap into that, it allows us to understand them at the deepest level. A story of how forgiveness is possible once we "get off our ass and walk" towards the pain and confront it.
There's also a certain hope creators have of the cast that are telling their story for the first time publicly, and to put it simply...
Our cast was a dream.
After two weeks of intense rehearsals with changes and new material being given to them up to the very day before the presentation, on Sunday they took everything we worked on and were impeccable. They nailed their laughs, they sounded beautiful, but most important - they gave honest and nuanced performances that brimmed with humanity. You could find yourself within the characters they inhabited. They were real people with complexities and idiosyncrasies. Marty, Malia, Yewande, Sarah, Daniel, Nicholas, Nina, Anna, Jamaal, Gregory and Anjum...we are forever in your debt.
There was an added excitement/pressure to the proceedings on Sunday, as Andrew Forsthoefel and his family were in the audience seeing the show for the first time. The man who walked the US on foot in search of answers was going to be sitting in The Goodspeed seeing himself and his story in the form of a musical. Up to that point, he had read drafts and heard demos, but he'd now be joining us as we presented the entire show for the first time. We finally unleashed the secret of Andrew's attendance the day before the presentation and they could not wait to meet the man whose story they had been living in for weeks. Many hugs and photos were had in the greenroom prior to the show and the cast got that extra jolt as we ticked closer and closer to show time.
I started off this blog talking about the excitement of creating a musical at the birthplace of so many famous musical theatre classics. And that feeling still has me reeling and will for some time. But what supersedes all that is the feeling you have when you are an artist at Goodspeed. The feeling of tremendous kindness and support that flows from every part of the organization. From the staff who treat you like family and do whatever they can to help you and to allow creativity to flourish. To the audiences who are receptive and intelligent and gracious. I have very few "creative homes," but I have always been honored that I am able to call Goodspeed one. From the moment you cross over the bridge, you know something special lies ahead. A part of the very fabric of our theatrical world.
So that's it friends.
Thank you so much for coming onboard with me for this journey and for all the kind words you sent my way.
Sharing Passing Through with you all was an absolute dream. Sharing the backstage look as to how it all came together, was my absolute pleasure.