Imagine this. You’re strolling through the Manhattan theater district sightseeing and hoping to spot a celebrity when suddenly a stage door flies open and a man with a desperate look in his eyes rushes out, grabs your arm and shouts, “Are you an actor?” What would you reply?
This actually happened to my son Steven. He told me he said to the desperate man, “No, sorry, I’m not an actor.” I was appalled when he told me this. Steven hires actors and directs them in TV commercials. That should have been close enough.
“You could have ended up with a leading lady in your arms,” I scolded. “Or maybe been one of the Twelve Angry Men, and don’t forget, you’re a true Jersey Boy.” Steven explained he was just out for a quick lunch on a busy day and it wouldn’t have been fair if he didn’t hurry back to work.
Whenever I’m in Manhattan now, I make it a point to stroll through the theater district, but so far, after nine or ten strolls, not one desperate director who’s one actor short of a complete cast, has run out and grabbed my arm.
If that ever happens I’m going to reply, “Why yes, I am an actor. I once starred in an off-off Broadway play” and hope he’s so desperate he won’t press for details and I’d be on the Broadway stage for one memorable afternoon and hopefully retire without serious injury.
My acting career began about 80 years ago when I had the title role in “The Big Bad Wolf” staged by our 4th grade troupe. My dying scene in Act 3 was quite moving according to one critic who happened to be my mother.
Perhaps I wasn’t that much of a hit because the following year in our musical about health foods I was cast as spinach. I had no lines and was barely visible beneath the green crepe paper.
I’ll probably never be put in the path of a desperate Broadway director. What might happen is I’ll walk through the theater district and into Restaurant Row where a panicky maitre’d will run out and shout, “Are you a dishwasher?” Actually I’ve had quite a lot of professional experience as a dishwasher. I wonder what the pay scale is now.