Saturday, September 28, 2013
Why I could never be in a musical -- even one that I wrote
The show was produced in 2006 at the Goodspeed Theater in Connecticut. It was theater summer camp except they never made us play basketball. Someday I hope there’s another production. It was very well received. Chris Berman from ESPN loved it. Not sure how many of the cast members even knew who Chris Berman is but still.
One night before a show I asked Andrew Rannells (who later went on to THE BOOK OF MORMON, THE NEW NORMAL, and GIRLS) just what it was like to be performing on stage and feeding off the reaction and energy of the audience? He said, “Well why don’t you just write a part for yourself in the show?” That was a lovely suggestion except for one thing – I have no talent. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, and I can’t act. You sort of need to have at least one of those skills to be in a musical.
I have had cameos in two TV shows I co-wrote with David Isaacs. One was OPEN ALL NIGHT. David and I played two swinging lawyers trying to pick up female mud wrestlers at a mace class. The producers added this stage direction: The two girls get tired of these idiots and flip them over their shoulders.
For a week we were getting tossed around. Finally, right after dress rehearsal on show night, after being bruised and battered, they cut they stunt.
My other appearance was on a very funny series called THE MARSHALL CHRONICLES. This time David and I played two gay guys at a Jewish wedding. I had two lines; one I had to deliver while actually walking!
Both of these series were quickly cancelled. You can understand why other producers aren’t checking my availability.
I have, however, made a number of appearances as a voice-over sportscaster. If a character is watching a sporting event on TV they always need an announcer’s voice playing underneath the scene. Observant fans of this blog noticed that I once did baseball play-by-play on a MODERN FAMILY episode. It was an early episode that now is being rerun a lot on USA and your local stations. These are great jobs. Usually they take fifteen minutes. I’ve done this for about twenty shows, most I’ve never seen. And of course, I played the Springfield Isotopes announcer on the “Dancin’ Homer” episode of THE SIMPSONS.
But that’s easy. I’m a play-by-play guy anyway and I can keep doing it over until everyone is happy. Not the same as stepping out on a live stage, having a million cues to remember, complicated dance numbers, jokes to sell, and playing a character that is real and believable even though you’re forced to yell every line and periodically break into song. Yes, this is Nathan Lane in real life, but for the rest of us it requires great discipline and talent.
So my hat’s off to theater people. All that skill, all that training, and still sometimes you have to appear in CATS.