You know that show, What Would You Do?, where John Quinones orchestrates outrageous situations in public places and the cameras roll to see how ordinary folks react? Last night, I attended a theater performance, and I’m not joking, I started to look around to see if I saw old John Q. hiding in the wings.
The show was Memphis, and if you have an opportunity to see this musical, you have to go–it’s SO good! If you live somewhere near me, you can see the most excellent performers at the Aurora Theater in beautiful downtown Lawrenceville, GA till August 30th (if it’s not sold out yet!).
So the Beneficent Mr. Hall and I sat down in our seats; he was on the outside of the row. A somewhat elderly gentleman sat next to me and right away, I could tell he was a talker. Nothing wrong with that, I’m a bit of a talker myself. But then he continued to talk during the Artistic Director’s opening statements (when a very nice gentleman welcomes people to the show, thanks all the sponsors, etc.) and I began to squirm a little because that’s just a teensy bit rude, right?
Thankfully, the show started and it opens with a bang. It’s rhythm and blues and gospel and rock ‘n roll and my seatmate stopped talking.
But just for a couple minutes.
He started up again, talking about the show. And not whispering, people. He spoke in a relatively normal voice. Saying things like, “Oh, look. Now he’s gonna sing. He’s really good, isn’t he?” Or, “Uh-oh. He better not do that.” And “Can you believe this?”
Well, no. No, sir, I could not believe this. It was a constant stream of commentary throughout the performance. And then he started singing--not every word–because these are not well-known songs and it was clear that he didn’t actually know the songs. He’d just pick up on the chorus and join in on a word or two.
Now, I am not gonna lie. Cathy C. Hall has been known to sing along during a musical. But just in my own wee little head. Maybe in a very, very soft voice. And I at least sing the right words, the right tune. Once my new friend started his very unique singing, I couldn’t help laughing (ultra quietly, though). I looked at the Beneficent Mr. Hall and we nearly lost it. I mean, you know he was loud if Mr. Hall heard him–sitting on the other side as he was, and besides, Mr. Hall is practically deaf. At intermission, a lady sitting in the row behind him and three seats down, remarked on his wonderful singing.
“Oh, that wasn’t me,” he said. We all smiled. He genuinely didn’t realize he was singing.
If John Quinones expected me to fuss at this gentleman, he was sorely disappointed. Not that he wasn’t annoying; he most assuredly had his moments. But his joy! Oh my word, it was unbounded. Honestly, I have never seen anyone enjoy a show as much as this man. He was having so much fun, I didn’t dare rain on his parade. In fact, I might’ve even enjoyed the show more than I would have if I’d been sitting next to a more subdued patron of the arts.
As I walked out of that theater, I thought of the person who wrote the show’s book, and the lyricist, and the musical director and all the actors. How they brought so much joy to this man, and to the Beneficent Mr. Hall and me, and all the other patrons. And I really hoped that someday, somewhere, a girl or boy would hold my book in their hands and maybe read lines out loud, laugh and giggle, perhaps even get in trouble because they had a nose buried in my words instead of the Math problem on the white board. I really, really hoped that someone would experience unbridled joy, reading my book.
So I’m still smiling this morning, thinking of the show and the gentleman who sat next to me. What I did when faced with that outrageous situation was more or less appreciate the joy.
Tell me, what would you do?