To the Barricades, Vol. 24
Despite fatigue, a shorter than normal fuse, and a workload that is always pressing, being in this production is something that I wouldn't give up for anything. I get the sense that many members of the cast and crew feel the same, though that doesn't make the process any easier. It takes a toll on those of us doing the long hours - 23 from the time work ended on Friday to late Sunday night - and it wears on our support networks: spouses, children, parents, co-workers, employers, clients.
I know I am not alone. Fellow cast members are juggling work and personal life issues constantly, but still coming to rehearsals with full intention, energy and commitment. I'm convinced that being able to leave our baggage at the door is a great thing, a gift.
I shared a story with the younger kids while sitting in the green room yesterday, about what happened to me on stage back in 2000. I was going through a particularly rough patch. Dylan was a baby at the time. It's hard to believe he's up there on stage with me now. But, back then he was tiny, and I was in front of an audience every night playing Biff in Death of a Salesman. The stress I was going through was off the charts, which probably contributed to the closing night snapping of my Achilles tendon. I hobbled through the rest of that performance, lurching from one piece of furniture to another, just trying to keep from falling. I had surgery in Edmonton two days later and spent the next many months being a one-legged single father of a one and a half year old boy who couldn't walk. (Dylan didn't become get moving freely on two legs until he was three and a half)
But the stage, and the play, were a refuge during those difficult days. The people who populated that experience became my support network during a time when I desperately needed one.
Our personal journeys are all different, but the journey we are going through together with Les Mis binds us together in a way that is impossible to describe. In this window of time we become an extended family to one another. When one of us posts on Facebook that we're having a tough day, the rest of us feel it, and offer our support. When we put this show in front of an audience and feel their intense appreciation, we will celebrate together. We are many, but we are one.
When we convene for "One Day More" at the end of Act One, you will hear, see and feel 75 hearts beating as one. It's one of the most visceral, powerful and unforgettable things I've ever experienced. I say 75 because while we are 49 on stage, there are many others just beyond the view of the audience adding their energy to the moment: musicians in the pit, dressers in the wings, Steph Link wildly waving her arms in the booth in the back cheering us on.
It is for that moment, and so many more, that we soldier on: pushing through the tiredness, ignoring the growing pile of laundry at the foot of our bed, and kissing our loved ones goodbye yet again, as we trudge out the door for another night or day with our Les Mis family. We are many, but we are one.