Billy and Me, my second play, closes on Sunday in West Palm Beach. I’ve hung up my traveling shoes to await the Big Call with Mrs. T, so I won’t be on hand for the last performance. I’ll be there in spirit, though, watching Nicholas Richberg, Tom Wahl, and Cliff Burgess bring the story of the friendship of Tennessee Williams and William Inge to life one more time. Their performances are remarkable—Palm Beach Dramaworks has received a lot of messages to that effect from satisfied audience members—and the play itself went over extraordinarily and gratifyingly well.
Needless to say, I have a long list of other people to whom I owe debts of gratitude that can never be repaid, starting with Bill Hayes, PBD’s artistic director, who gave me the idea for Billy and Me, shepherded it through a hundred drafts, and put it on stage with the utmost faithfulness and flair. Without Bill, not to mention Victor Becker, Paul Black, Brian O’Keefe, and David Thomas, the members of the design team for Billy and Me, and Debi Marcucci, Stefanie Anarumo, Katie Pyne, Kelly Sirbola, Michael Amico, Celeste de St. Auban, and Rebecca Pancoast, the leaders of the backstage pack, the latest of my theatrical dreams could never have come true. All of them deserve to take deep, deep bows. Likewise the long list of other Palm Beach Dramaworks stalwarts who have in the past two years become members of my extended theatrical family. You know who you are—and so do I.
Everybody wants to know where Billy and Me will go next. Several artistic directors have expressed interest in the script, and I feel pretty confident that other stagings of Billy and Me will take place somewhere down the line. For me, though, the first production was the thing, and it couldn’t have been better. I’ve now had two plays produced professionally, which makes me a full-fledged professional playwright. Like the song says, they can’t take that away from me.
Meanwhile, Satchmo at the Waldorf, my first play, just keeps rolling along. It’ll be staged in February at Houston’s Alley Theatre, and while I have to miss that production as well, I’ll be thinking about it with something not unlike nostalgia as opening night draws nearer, wondering when I’ll next renew my membership in the Society of People Putting on a Show.
Until then…well, I’ll reluctantly resume my status as a civilian, a part-time theater person who, I suspect, will never again feel quite right anywhere else but in a rehearsal room. The bug has bitten me hard, and I’m already longing for it to do so again.
For the moment, though, I’ll content myself with my memories, which are as warm as they can possibly be. I’ve gotten lucky twice in a row, and precious few people in the fearfully hard business of theater get to say that.
Thanks, everybody. I miss you already—terribly.
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The video trailer for Palm Beach Dramaworks’ premiere production of Billy and Me: