Theatre Camp!
Volume 3 Book 3 Part 10 of

Living in the Bonus Round

Can you tell what's happening in this picture?
[ Book 3-2 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Book 3-4 ]

March 11-13, 2003.
Best What?

I have to confess. I didn't see this one coming. I mean there's always the possibility that lightning can strike twice in the same place but this was too much to ask for. After all, The Last Session was a fluke, right? A happy accident where the forces of fate all gathered to keep this AIDS-guy alive and his ego pumped.

"I have an idea," it said. "Before he goes off to eternity, we'll quickly fulfill a bunch of his fantasies, make him feel like he's the greatest thing since sliced bread and before he has to chance to see how the world REALLY works, he'll be dead and we can all go on."

Right now, my bathroom reading is the book by Paul Monette: "Borrowed Time." It's an AIDS diary, too. Just like the one you're reading. The difference is that his takes place in the mid-80s when people measured their lives one infection after another. They watched for their first OI (Opportunistic Infection) and then they "knew" they had three years.

As in the book, my week has been nothing but doctor visits, drug store visits, waiting rooms, new doctors, new tests and next week, a "procedure." I don't mind the colonoscopy itself. It's the icky laxative drink you have to take the day before to clean out your system. And in a humorous twist of fate, that night before is the night we get our Oscar Wilde Award from PFLAG.  (Who says this diary isn't fun?)

The ordering of the scoping procedure came as a result of this sentence: "I'm feeling a little swelling down here." The doctor who was investigating my bleeding internal hemorrhoids last week said that and added. "It's probably nothing. But I want to take a closer look."

Anyway, I was reading "Borrowed Time" and remembering my own time when life was measured infection by infection when it dawned on me:

This is 10th anniversary of my HIV diagnosis. Spring of 1993. I remember sitting in the doctor's office a year later, "Tell me how long I have."

He said, "I don't like to tell that kind of statistic..."

"NO!" I demanded. "I want dates."

"Okay," he said. "Three years."

So, this past Monday night, I had resigned myself. I was thinking, "You've outlived all your AIDS goodwill points. We are NOT going to win the LA Drama Critics Circle Award again."
One time is enough. The Big Voice is too small a show, especially compared to the incredible production of TLS which  won before. You're up against a Broadway show "Side Show," brilliantly realized at the Colony where this awards ceremony was being held, and "Red Thread" which was all over the program with multiple nominations in many categories. You're happy you got nominated. Looks good on the poster either way.
That night we were to do two things besides wait to see if we won. We were to open the show with "Why?" and then close the show with the "Why?" reprise.

Sign Burbank Theatre Center Home of the Colony

American flag hanging next to a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle banner
As we entered the beautiful new Colony theatre, these banners were overhead.

The brilliant Maripat Donovan from "Late Night Catechism."

Terri Roberts produced the night. This is one of the crew. I met him at Indiana University when I sang my Bonus Round concert there several years ago. We remembered each other.

View from the stage of the Colony Theatre in Burbank.
The seats are actually bright red but I took this before the lights were on.
Notice the podium on the left and the piano on the right.

And Maisey is there! She's presenting an award this night.
It was fun to read her little bio blurb, "Previously won Featured Performer for The Last Session." We love our Maisey and she looked great.

Stan Haberman was manning the camera. (Thanks, Stan. Sorry the picture I took of you and Barbara was out of focus.) This is right after our opening, just after I say, "And religion was born!" The woman behind me is signing for the deaf.

Here's Jimmy singing. You can see the stage was set for a play that had just closed.

Aren't we cute?

Okay, here's how it went down. We sang the opening. The awards started. We're sitting in our seats in the very back row (a necessity since we are in and out). The ceremony is nice. The speeches are short. The winners modest and entertaining.

Gena Rowlands gives out an award.

But now, as we get closer to "Musical Score," my stomach starts to tense up ever so slightly.

Don't get your hopes up.

My mouth is a little dry. The microphone over my ear is itching and the piece of tape holding it on has lost its stickiness, so it's falling off.

The time comes. It's our category. I'm not looking at the stage. I can't bear the moment. Then I hear the words, "And the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Score goes to..."

I cringe.

"...Steve..." and that's all I heard. Steve... something. I looked at Jimmy and starting howling. Or moaning. Or something. I didn't hear another word. We ran to the stage. I made a few quick thank yous to Laguna Playhouse's Andy and Rick, The Lex's Anthony Barnao, Gary & Linda at the Zephyr, Bev and Marie... (My one regret was that Marie and Bev were not mentioned as part of the award. I found out later it was due to an LADCC rule concerning "co-collaborators." But, nonetheless, they share the prize with us).

Jimmy was shaking. I've never seen him so flustered. He took the podium and said, "Ethel Merman changed my life." Some people laughed. It's a funny line but he's saying it deadly seriously.

Mark Savage laughs as Jimmy says, "Ethel Merman changed my life."
What? He thought we were kidding? :-)

Then, on the verge of tears, he repeats the anthem of our show, that we change the course of each other's lives and we never really know it. It's a lesson that holds true in or outside of theatre, but this was a night celebrating theatre and it rang especially true.

All during the night, performers would refer back to Jimmy's statement, talking about how much theatre means to them. The show was blessedly modest in length and afterwards we were in the lobby getting hugs and kisses.

Steve and Maisey. Steve and Mark Savage, a highly regarded composer.

Carol Lawrence also received an award!

So, all in all, it was a glorious night. And best of all, while awards are definitely food for the ego, their real value is in giving us extra credibility as we move into new cities. Each theatre can use the awards and nominations to secure more interviews and newspaper/magazine/tv features.

Next week, the PFLAG award ceremony and the scope!

[ Book 3-2 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Book 3-4 ]
© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.