I have been trying for a while now to understand why the feeling I got seeing the cover and table of contents for SOUL’S ROAD was so familiar. And then I recalled: In a former life I was part of a home-grown musical that miraculously landed on Broadway. Our first performance was to be a midnight “gypsy run-through” for all the other Broadway casts. I arrived at the theater that morning and found a pile of new Playbills. My photograph was on the cover, and it literally took my breath away. I had to walk around the block once to stop the tears and then a second time to try to understand why I was so moved, having come to music for a variety of reasons that at no time included a quest for fame. I’d already had a long career in New York. This was not my first time appearing on Broadway, or even my first time in a show I’d helped create. But this was a show I’d worked on with good friends, colleagues whose work I admired and whose outsider journeys to this moment resonated with my own. We’d connected with producers who believed in us and dug in to help turn dream into reality. And there we were, with our photos on the cover of Playbill.
SOUL’S ROAD is certainly a collaboration with writers whose work I greatly admire. Those I know from the wondrous Goddard College residencies I consider friends. And Cody Luff, our editor and the inspiration for launching this project, has certainly done back-flips to make this real. So when I saw the galleys for the book I was thrilled by the physical proof that we were in fact going to be published and, more importantly, so greatly moved by the fact of being published in the company of this particular group of writers. Whatever the outcome, the journey has been miraculous and for me at least the journey is everything. So this is a maybe too-public thanks to one and all involved in this effort.
Back on that day in 1982 (!!) I returned from my walk and at 10AM we did our first full run-through of the show. Our producers had given us creative control of the production, and at noon we fired their director and put them through twelve hours of hell while we completely re-staged (and therefore re-lit) the entire show. At 11:30 that night we opened the house to everyone then working on Broadway. We literally had people sitting on top of one another in the aisles – the fire department would have closed us down if they’d come inspecting. But they didn’t, and at midnight we got the cue to start the very first run-through of this new version of the show. Our producers were the very picture of controlled hysteria, because Broadway was a land where they lived but we were only visiting . It would be sad and humiliating for us if we fell on our faces in front of this crowd; for them it would be fatal. But when we hit the final note the audience roared to its feet and we knew we’d pulled it off. I tell this story, probably again too publically, as a reminder to Cody who is going through his own version of last-minute hell to make certain everything is just right. Last minute madness seems to be an inevitable part of endeavors like this. Calm would be a sign that everything had gone horribly wrong. The chaos is the good news. Embrace the chaos.