Fair Play to Ya: As written for NYSI

I gave two years of my life to the indie-folk, basement-created beauty of a play-with music, ONCE. If I may use the obvious turn of phrase, it was ‘once in a lifetime,’ as magical on the inside as it looked from the outside. It continues to change and shape my life; I write you these words tonight, on break from a rehearsal space on 46th with part of my original company as we prepare for a Joe’s Pub concert. We sing and play in the rehearsal space we were all in when it was announced we won the Grammy for our cast album.  

The Grammy, The Tony’s, the newness… It was our Golden Age.  

There is a golden age of any experience, and I was in the big middle of this very special show’s Golden Age. Granted, ONCE will ebb and flow and be wonderfully special, re-born in many unique, gorgeous ways as it continues, but it is only truly born once. Yes…once. She was born in initial readings, a toddler at American Repertory Theatre, a feisty teenager at New York Theatre Workshop and then getting her driver’s license when we moved to Broadway. Her glory days came as Tony voters flooded our doors, when she received 11 nominations and those special nights when Bono, the President of Ireland, Joe Biden, Vanessa Reggrave or Bryan Cranston showed up. I picked out a dress and went to prom with our fledgling ONCE at the Tonys. 

And then, like that, ONCE grew up. She had long, beautiful legs and we ran her with fierce passion.  After a long, healthy marathon, five of us decided that we had grown up with ONCE and ONCE was all grown up. So I / we left with tears and memories for the ages.  

But here’s the thing: it was my time to be aggressive, time for me to be the lead at a great theatre with a cutting edge project with new actors I respected as much as my current cast. I took a risk and it paid off in new ways; some ways I didn’t see until after the show closed and some ways I’m still seeing come to fruition. 

Do I miss the show at times? Of course. Do I take back the decision to make an investment in my future career? Never. Now is the time to continue being aggressive. And now is the time for you to make calculated risks in your future. It’s never easy, but making a lifestyle of being a great risk taker creates the dynamic for great rewards to open up to you. No doubt many of you are knocking this out of the park already. 

My husband, Jordan, recently found an article about that the Habits of Mentally Strong People that I quickly posted on our fridge as it ties in perfectly to this, (and I need some help getting better at most of them.) Some of my favorites are 1.) Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself, 2.) Don’t shy away from change, 3) Don’t dwell on the past, 4.) Don’t fear calculated risks, 5.) Don’t give up after first failure, 6.) Don’t expect immediate results. 

ONCE is an achievement artistically and commercially I’m proud of, and it changed my life. BUT playing Grusha in Caucasian Chalk Circle immediately after was wildly fulfilling, challenging and did a lot for me ONCE hadn’t. I’m looking forward to shooting an upcoming feature film and tackling a new show with Kathleen Chalfant.  

My play JOE is also awaiting acceptance to Goodspeed Opera House’s writing intensive and our new band FAIR PLAY will be playing at venue near you soon! There are lots of other live wires / irons in the fire that remain unnamed for various reasons, but growth is growth.

Here’s the juxtaposing kicker: people always trump projects, so as important as risk taking is and forward motion, chuck it all out the window when it comes to valuing the lives of those around you. Case and point, the musical ONCE is no longer in my daily life, but I’m in a room w three life friends and our assistant music director from the show, making music and being family. People and God are the only things that really last.