by Mo Brady
This weekend, I had a chance to see Papermill Playhouse’s production of The Honeymooners. The ensemble is full of talented Broadway performers, playing everything from scrappy bus drivers to snooty elites. In fact, it’s hard to remember a regional show that featured so many Gypsy Robe winners as this one (the show has a quartet - Stacey Todd Holt, Justin Prescott, Jeffrey Schecter and Kevin Worley).
All that to say, I knew that I’d see an ensemble full of talented, intelligent and witty performers. And while that is exactly what I saw, there was one standout moment that epitomized this professionalism.
One of the dancers fell.
I was quick, non-injurious slip, happening so fast that I barely noticed it. But it was by an actor performing downstage center, so it’s hard to believe it wasn’t seen by most of the audience.
I’m not going to call out the actor by name, because it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they got back up again.
This actor’s slip happened at the beginning of an extended production number, with minutes left to perform. I have no doubt that the actor felt a sense of embarrassment upon finding themselves on the ground (I mean, who wouldn’t).
But from the audience, you couldn’t see any embarrassment. We saw an actor on the floor for less than two seconds before they picked themselves up and continued performing.
Everybody knows that when you experience a challenge in life, you keep pushing forward. The same goes for performing. In the hallowed words of Lesli Margherita, “You finish your NUMBA.” And that’s precisely what this talented professional did. They continued their performance with elegance, grace and a great deal of humor.
One of the most unique skills ensemblists possess is their ability to do multiple things in the face of chaos. In show after show, ensemble members are asked to belt high notes while performing exhausting movements, moments after returning to the stage from a quick change - and be smart enough to know how to do it without stealing focus.
This actor’s ability to literally pick themselves off the floor and continue their performance with aplomb was the epitome of professionalism. More so, it was a reminder of the humanity of ensemblists - even the most talented of performers make mistakes. But it is not those mistakes that define us, it is our ability to keep pushing forward afterwards.