Sunday, March 18, 2012

Seasons in the Sun

There is joy.

Last night was the closing night for "Geeks! The Musical!" I have loved and enjoyed playing a wannabe goth kid as part of the geek chorus ensemble, singing and dancing through various fictional scenes at the Comic Con.

There is so much joy in rehearsals for "Hairspray," watching young folks dance and sing in various numbers. I wish I were still young enough to be one of them. Instead, I have four brief but distinct moments on stage in my role as the Male Authority Figure, playing a flamboyant dress shop owner, a stern school principal, a gruff prison guard, and a prissy president of a hairspray company.

There is pain. The community of theatre friends on facebook are mourning the loss of a beloved friend who took his life this past weekend. I didn't know Johnny B. that well. It's been over two decades since we were last in a Disney show together. I saw him in recent years, working out at 24 Hour Fitness, or walking along Sunset Blvd. near my job in Hollywood. Johnny was tall, good looking, and talented. He had played many leading man roles. More recently, he had been performing in a national tour of Mama Mia.

To someone like me, looking in from the outside, Johnny seemed to have everything. What was he going through? What led him to the decision to end his life?

There is more sadness. We lost one of our pugs, recently. Prudence had been steadily deteriorating in dementia. She wasn't the same dog anymore. She didn't even want fresh chicken, anymore, the pre-bedtime treat that she and our other pug always get. I read about the loss of other beloved pets on facebook. A Disney friend is losing her golden retriever to cancer, so her family is making every day his best day for as long as they can, taking him to the beach, feeding him steak, and putting the top down for open-air car rides.

Two weeks ago I went to the memorial service for the father of one of my school friends. A close friend in England, whom I'll see this summer at another reunion, is watching as her mother loses a battle to cancer. I feel we are at that age, that it's just part of being middle-aged, watching more friends have to survive and cope with losing a parent.

Queen's song, Who Wants to Live Forever, keeps playing through my mind.

Despite that, I keep telling myself that we must remember the joy. It has been harder to do so on some days, especially this past week, and yet, I feel it cannot and should not be denied.

(The photo above is from the night that Bubba Brent and BFF Kathy - two high school band geek friends with whom I have bonded for life - came to a performance of "Geeks!" along with Domestic Partner. Joy!)

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