Hey, Red Headed Kid…
I’m sorry I didn’t come back to talk to you after I signed everyone else’s playbills.
Your grandmother (Mother? Aunt?) was running the show and you were shy. She made sure to let me know you were “also in theatre…” Your eyes could barely meet mine.
I’m so sorry.
I was painfully shy at my first stage door. (My only stage door, really. I’m still shy.) It was at the Martin Beck Theater (now the Al Hirschfeld) after seeing the original production of Into The Woods in previews. Bernadette was why I had planned to wait, Joanna Gleason was why I got up the courage to wait, but I honestly don’t remember either of them. Who I remember is Robert Westernberg. The Prince/Wolf. Looking not like a Broadway Actor at all but a bit dweeby and wearing glasses. The handsome, sexy, hero/villain was just a guy. And that stayed with me. He made me see a sexy/scary wolf and a heroic/hilarious prince (those forward, Napoleonic curls!), but he was just a guy. Who wore glasses. Just like I did. He was just normal looking… guy.
And my eyes could barely meet his.
I wished I had come back to give you some more time, Red Headed Kid. I wish I’d asked you some questions. I know why I didn’t. Your shyness reminded me of my shyness and my empathy made me want to make this painful moment as short as possible for you. I was trying to make it better by making it briefer.
I wish I’d had more sympathy than empathy.
Had I the distance to sympathize with you, I could have really engaged. But, turns out—that even though I’m the one coming out of a Broadway stage door—I’m still a shy kid, too.
If you come back (and I so wish you would) let’s both do better.
I promise I will.