Thursday, December 11, 2014

Peter Pan And Quitting My Day Job.

So, this week I found myself the great defender of Peter Pan Live! When they (they? I'm not even sure who they are, CBS?) announced last year that they were following up The Sound of Music with Peter Pan, I probably groaned or made some other kind of noise or at least rolled my eyes because Peter Pan? In my memory, it was just dumb and kind of incoherent and really not my favorite musical.

But then it happened, and it was not bad. In fact, I really kind of enjoyed it. (Marijuana helped, but I was loving it even before that.) Granted, the first 20 minutes were boring, but once they started flying I was in. And then the pirates and the dancing and all the fucked-up weirdness of the sex and gender situation, which is weird even without the additional layer of weirdness added by casting (always) an adult woman as Peter Pan, who is a little boy who seduces a pubescent girl who falls in love with him and he calls her "Mother," okay? And meanwhile they're being pursued by a homicidal gay pirate (seriously, maybe Hook's queerness was all very coded and sly back in the fifties but we're onto all that sexual innuendo now).

I think the real reason it's customary to cast a woman as Peter is that it somewhat de-sexes the show. With a boy in the role, it would be too obvious that those scenes between Peter and Wendy are all about sexual desire. And it takes the edge off Hook's obsession with Peter if Peter is a woman.

So, yeah, there was lots of indignation from the high art crowd and blah blah whatever, but what really got my dander up was the talk about Christopher Walken, the sort of glib evaluation of his performance, like "Well, yes, he was entertaining, but he's just doing Christopher Walken." What does that even mean? Sandy Dennis got that a lot, too, Diane Keaton. Jack Nicholson. Some of the greatest actors ever. And did anyone say that about Kelli O'Hara? I love Kelli O'Hara, and Kelli O'Hara does Kelli O'Hara. Ethel Merman did Ethel Merman, Bernadette Peters does Bernadette Peters, Mary Martin did Mary Martin. And they are and were great, turning in transporting performance after transporting performance.

What was thrilling to me was seeing Walken, after so much film work, deliver a real musical comedy performance, live. Focused, detailed, specific, and fucking hilarious.

Anyway, so, I loved Peter Pan. Wonders never cease.

Speaking of wonders, I'm leaving my day job. A week from tomorrow is my last day. I envisioned myself writing a blog post about this, but there are so many aspects to it I haven't been able to home in on a way to synthesize my thoughts or even list them coherently.

I've had a couple of brief periods in the past of making a living as an artist with no day job, but they were dependent on specific projects with endpoints in sight. Nothing so open-ended as this. Now I will be a full-time writer. I feel tremendous exhilaration, but not without a streak of apprehension. I could not make this move if I weren't married to a man whose income is enough to make up for the loss of mine. Not that my theater work doesn't produce any income, but it doesn't produce enough to support a life in New York City. Of course, the idea is that with more time to devote to my career, my income will eventually rise. But only eventually. And with no guarantees.

The other day my co-writers on LIZZIE and I were talking about how we'd like to publish some sheet music of a few songs. People ask for it, musical theater students and girls looking for interesting new audition songs. It's an expense: someone has to be paid to turn the score into publishable arrangements and then we have to actually publish them and probably pay someone to administer the sales. A few thousand dollars all told. We were discussing how much we're willing to front, and my point of view was basically that I'm not willing to put up much at all with no guarantee of making it back.

Because 1) I'm just done with that kind of financial optimism. I've thrown too many boxes of unsold CDs into dumpsters after dragging them all over the place for years, CDs that I paid thousands of dollars to have manufactured because I thought they'd sell. Too many. I spent thousands of dollars finishing my film Life in a Box (a lot of it borrowed from friends and credit card advances) because I was sure we'd get a big distribution deal. We didn't. So, yeah, no.

And 2) now that I'm married I share my finances, so any expense that's bigger than just normal spending money and household stuff is a conversation with my husband. It's not that we have approval over each other's spending. I guess we sort of do, technically, but it's not how we experience it. We make decisions together. That's what marriage is. And not that C is stingy or unsupportive -- I'm the thrifty one in our house -- but the fact of the conversation (and not always even having the conversation but just knowing there will be one) makes it easier for me not to be impulsive, to be more rational, sensible.

C's and my income has always been very unequal, but it will get more so now for a while. We're good at working things out. We're good at loving each other. I don't have any doubt that we will adjust, but it will be a new, unfamiliar landscape for a while.