A couple of weeks ago, I nipped into Whole Foods on Academy to buy something for dinner. As I wandered around the produce section, I was cornered by one of the produce guys who urged me to try out a slice of apple and a piece of aged Parmigiano Reggiano. He promised a taste sensation, so I did and yes by gum it was delicious. I chatted to him for a little while and throughout he was enthusiastic about this particular combination and about helping customers getting to love it too. So much so that I bought a pound of the apples and some of the cheese, so that my wife could try it too.
This got me thinking about my job as an actor. Through my performance I have to entice you the audience member to enter our made-up world, to suspend your belief, to be entertained, to feel as if you’ve had the best evening at a theater you’ve ever had. Anything less and I would be failing you. After all, I and my fellow actors have but 18 chances to woo you with our show. Come the evening of December 23rd, a mere three weeks away, it’ll be all over and we’d have lost our chance.
When you come to one of our performances, I’ll be there with my plate of apple and cheese slices — at least in a metaphorical sense — and inviting you to partake and enjoy the sensation. I am enthusiastic about this show and love becoming the Ghost of Christmas Present.
But, unlike the goods my friend the Whole Foods stacker was showing me, my performance is never quite the same. It’s weird: you’d think that now we’ve rehearsed the heck out of this show, everything would be constant. But no, there are always slight differences in everyone’s performance. We’re always striving to find something new in the way we perform to make things clearer, to give more depth to the characters, to entertain the audience. So some nights, I look at Scrooge in a different way or at a different place than before or say my line in a slightly different way. Bob Rais, who plays Scrooge, will then play off that, and suddenly there’s something more truthful about the relationship between the Ghost and Scrooge, something that will resonate better with the audience. The whole performance becomes heightened.
So are you ready for a taste sensation?
Ghost of Christmas Present