My husband and I have season tickets to our local little theater. This is the fourth season that we've had tickets, and we rarely miss a show.
Saturday we attended the first show of the season, Crazy for You, the 1992 Broadway musical roughly based on the 1930 musical Gershwin musical Girl Crazy, but containing Gershwin songs from other productions as well. The performance was preceded by a somber announcement. The day before, one of the cast members, a 16 year old chorus member named Phillip, died in an accident.
I had time to read the program during intermission. Phillip was a junior in high school, and had been acting for five years with other amateur theater groups around town. The program stated, "Phillip is very excited to be working with BRLT." When I got home, I looked up the details of the accident. He had died in a car wreck on his way to the opening performance.
Friday's show had been halted when word got to the theater of Phillip's death. The cast discussed the loss of Phillip and decided the show must go on. They resumed performances the next day and dedicated them to Phillip's memory. The show went well until the actress playing Polly, the female lead, had to sing Someone to Watch Over Me. Every time she came to the line "someone to watch over me", she could not sing it. At one point she began crying so much I was afraid she couldn't continue, but she made it through the song. The audience clapped loudly in support.
The rest of the performance went smoothly, including an elaborately and impressively choreographed version of I've Got Rhythm. Our local little theater has some impressive talent, and while no one would mistake their productions for professional ones, they are worth the cost of admission.
When it came time for curtain calls, I could see the actors faces clearly. Their eyes looked sad and some of them were tearing up. The people who had put on a lively comedy for us were suffering from their own recent tragedy. The two leads brought a large picture of Phillip out with them, and asked the audience to stay while the actor who had played Bobby read a statement. He was able to read it, but the rest of the cast was in tears.
When death comes, it never asks you, "Are you busy?" "Is this a good time?" "Did you get your homework done?" The teenage years are a time of wanting so badly to grow up, to try on adult responsibilities, and to throw off parental supervision. We tell our teens, as we had been told ourselves, "Don't be in such a rush. You have your whole life in front of you," and for the overwhelming majority of them, it's true. If we knew which ones were marked for early death, would we encourage them differently? Would we tell them to go ahead and be 16 at twelve, 21 at sixteen and 30 at eighteen? They can't, really. They are supposed to have their whole lives ahead of them.
I'm glad for Phillip that he didn't put off acting until a distant someday, and I'm sorry that he missed his BRLT debut, not to mention the rest of his life, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the point in my post when I'm supposed to come up with some comforting moral to the story, and I don't have one. People are grieving because Phillip is gone, and he wasn't supposed to be. Death never asks you, "Are you busy?"
There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me