Monday, April 27, 2009

Finishing The Hat - Nick DeSantis on his first role at The 5th

blog entry by Nick DeSantis (Franz/Lee Randolph)

On my very first show at The 5th Avenue:

I don't know how many auditions I have gone to where I have danced onstage at The 5th Avenue Theatre and looked out into that MASSIVE house and wondered what it would feel like to perform for an audience of over 2000 people on this stage - I finally got my chance to see what it's like! Now that I have, I'm not leaving. I'm never leaving. I'll just tuck myself up in a corner of the stage for Grease and stay there - they won't notice me I'm sure....I'll give myself big hair.

In all seriousness though - Sunday in the Park with George has been my favorite Broadway musical since I first saw it in my teens. I am profoundly moved EVERY time I see it (which is basically bi-monthly now that the DVD of the original broadway cast is available). I saw it on Broadway with Bernadette and Mandy, I saw it in Washington DC at The Kennedy Center with Raul Esparza and Melissa Errico and the DVD just stays on the shelf next to my TV so I can get a "Finishing the Hat" fix when I need it. I think it's a work that artists particularly, of any kind, can relate to in sort of a personal way. We've all had to sacrifice something to do what we do....time, money, a social life, whatever - so we've each, at some point, had to ask ourselves "why is it again that I love to do this?" Now that answer is, I'm sure, completely different for every artist, but we can all relate to the question as it is posed in the show. George can ONLY create art, to the exclusion of almost everything else in his life. When he sings "Finishing the Hat", he's trying to explain this very issue at the core of his soul - but the only concreate idea and words that he can come up with are simply that he has to Finish the Hat...and we kind of feel exactly what he means. It is such an honor for me to stand in the wings and hear Hugh Panaro sing this moving song so beautifully night after night. It's hard to keep my composure sometimes. Which can be a problem since the entire cast enters stage immediately after this song - and for any of us to be a blubbering mess might be a bit noticable.

One of the wonderful things about this experience is that this show holds such a dear place of almost everyone on the production team. Everyone is SO devoted and committed to creating a production that will do the work justice, it's a little overwhelming sometimes.

Actually, on that note - the first time we sang the Act I finale "Sunday," with a full orchestra, the sound and the emotion was so strong for each of us that many of the cast did begin weeping, myself included. I don't mean snivelly little soap-opera tears, but big, wracking, 7th-grader-who-didn't-make-cheerleader-after-practicing-her-pompom-routine-for-weeks-and-then-comes-home-to-find-her-puppy-ran-away sobs. I'm not sure but I think we might have frightened Ian Eisendrath (our impossibly talented music director and maestro) a little bit. Even though the tears have thankfully stopped, that moment at the end of the show as we all walk through "our" park one more time and inspire George to move ahead in his own life is one of the most personally gratifying and powerful things I have ever been given the privilege of doing onstage.

I hesitate to say this in an arena where it may come back to bite me, but if I never have the immense pleasure of doing another show at The 5th -or in my life really - this just might be enough.

Nah, that's stupid. I wanna do another!

No comments: