Theater Week is the best week of our year. Henry gets to use his highest gifts, all day, every day and then share those gifts with others. And does he ever share.
Henry’s innate feel for comedy is, well, stunning. An improviser colleague of mine saw Theater Week for the first time this year and she was, well, stunned. He reads the beats of the play, the pace of the actors, the flow of the performance and the energy of the audience. He delivers his lines to match all of that.
Oh, and he ad libs.
Sometimes his improvisation is to pad his part. Sometimes, he feels something is needed to connect with the audience. And often he encourages the other actors.
This Theater Week he was on fire. As the Narrator, he sat on the corner of the stage with his script on a music stand and a microphone. Somewhat removed from the action and yet, totally in it, at the end of each scene, a millisecond before the applause, he’d say, “Great job, you guys!” Of course, the audience would applaud a little more vigorously.
During the three songs, he sang along but in the instrumental breaks he instructed the singers, and the audience: “Ok, now, one more time!” and “Everybody now!” or “With Conviction!”
After the performance, he ran around the hall, shaking hands with everyone -- actors, audience members, ushers, technicians, and teachers. Because Theater Week happened at my place of work, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, after the house cleared, we went back to my desk. As soon as he hit the open office he was greeted by applause from all the cubes. He yelled loudly, “I did for a great job today!”
Then he added, “You guys did a great job!” I asked, “As the audience?” “Yeah! They were the audience, and I’m the Narrator. I did a great job as the Narrator!” Then back to his fans, “Thank You, Thank you!”
His exuberance for his work is inspiring. I want to enjoy my own work and celebrate it. I want to cheer others on and tell them they did a great job, just because they showed up. I want to pat my back and proclaim, “I did a great job today!”