The Gathering

Thursday April 5th, 2012 – Libertyville, IL

   One of the many great things I learned from my grandfather that I still practice today is how to be an active avid fan and vocal supporter of live entertainment. Gramps used to take me to see all kinds of live shows ranging from musical theatre to comedy to drama and anything in between.

He taught me how to be a good audience, and fully enjoy the show. He became involved in the process himself later in life, as he participated in plays produced at senior centers after he retired from working for the City of Milwaukee. Gramps loved show business, but never chased it while he was young. He wanted the security of a civil service job, even though it made him miserable.

But when he retired, he threw himself into live performance with a vengeance – and I had never seen him happier. He would ask me to come and see all his performances, even though they were painful to sit through. I saw how happy it made him, so I felt I had to go. He so loved that stage.

Most of the productions he was in were musical revue type shows, where he could put on some kind of goofy costume and play a ukulele or a kazoo. He was in absolute heaven. There would be Gramps on stage in a grass skirt and Hawaiian shirt with a dozen of his old bippies shaking their orthopedic booties and having the time of their lives. How can I fault that if it made him happy?

It made him even happier when he’d see me walk through the door to sit in the audience for his tiny moment in the sun. My grandmother hated anything to do with show business, and she used to poo poo the idea of him making a fool of himself in public and I know it crushed him inside.

Ever since then, I always felt empathy for performers of all kinds. I know how difficult it is for anyone to make a living as an entertainer much less be a star, as there is a long process involved with no guaranteed payoff. I try to always support anyone who has the guts to make that journey.

Tonight I went out to support a fantastic live show called ‘The Gathering’ at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. David Stuart is the director, and it’s a contemporary one act theatre piece that chronicles the last hour of the last supper. It was written by Josephine Forsberg, and it’s very hip.

David asked me to play the part of Bartholomew, and I was very flattered he did but I couldn’t in all fairness dedicate the kind of time needed to prepare for the role. I wouldn’t allow myself to be a disruption and miss rehearsals because of my hectic schedule, but I felt I had to go and show support by seeing the final product. I’m so glad I did, as I was blown away by their performance.

My friend Karl Newyear did a magnificent job as Bartholomew, as did all the other actors who I thought played their roles to perfection. The cast wears tuxedos, and I thought that added a very classy touch. The audience was totally into it too, and I sat back and was thoroughly entertained.

David is a total pro, and knows what he’s doing. There are a few more performances the rest of the weekend, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys well done live entertainment. It’s a super cast, and show times are available at Tell David I sent you.

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