Thursday, October 13, 2011

NEXT FALL blog 2: Andi Watson (Holly)

“What are you doing right now?”

“I'm in rehearsals for Next Fall.”

“For what show and why are you rehearsing a year in advance?”

“No, the name of the show is Next Fall.”

“Oh. Hmph. Never heard of it.”

What I thought would be yet another amazing show that no one has heard of has already proven to be much more than I could possibly blog about in one sitting.

A lesson in serendipity.

I just returned from my first visit to New York. This was my first trip to the city and was somewhat spontaneous in nature, so I didn't have much of an agenda. I had picked up my script two days before leaving so that I would have something to occupy myself on the plane and perhaps in the audition 'holding rooms'.

And here's where the serendipity begins...

Holly (the character I'm playing) is a citified hippie. She's part New York business woman, part crystal-clutching, shakra-healing, master of the downward dog. Her faith is in energies and higher powers rather than specific dieties and she finds comfort and fellowship among her self-help groups and charity fundraisers. I'm not afraid to admit that Holly and I share more than a few common characteristics, not all of them healthy or 'normal' by the majority standards, but we serve a necessary, if eclectic, function in the world.

When in NYC, I stayed with a friend at 73rd and Columbus and read (with some amusement) Holly's story about walking down 74th and Columbus. Some coincidence.

I read further to Butch's reference of his driver from JFK; “Saheed was a yakker with a lead foot,” and guffawed out loud. My driver from Newark Airport was a chatty Pakistani (in the city 22 years) named Sayyed.

I could go on to include the many Jewish references in the show (most of which I had only just learned about from my friend Sandy – who bears the same last name as another character I reference)... or the shared favorite candle scents... or the pot-smoking friend named Rachel... but needless to say, I was emotionally bonded to the script (and Holly) after the first read.

But that isn't where the serendipity ends.

There is a kind of 'theatre magic' that happens on some projects that is unexplainable.

I had the opportunity to work with Matthew on Noises Off for Phoenix Theatre most recently, and further back had worked with David Vining as a dialect coach and Debra K. on a one-night reading of Lysistrata. I'd also worked at length with April Miller and David Dickinson at Southwest Shakes and Shakespeare Sedona. But the culmination of all this is Robert Harper, playing Adam, Holly's life-saver and BFF. 'Robbie' and I have worked numerous projects together. From community theatre, to corporate events, to private gigs to professional and regional theatres, he has alternately been my director, my choreographer, my teacher and my castmate. More than this, the man is my mentor and my friend.

And so it was, on the night of our first read-thru, that we sat across the table from each other as we read the final pages of our script.

“He looked at me.”

My eyes met Robbie's... and with one look, he cracked open my heart and gutted my soul.

I understood at once what this play is about. It's about faith. It's about relationships. It's about protecting the ones we love. It's about loyalty and acceptance.

It's about serendipity and believing in something bigger than yourself.

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