There was a most singular occurrence at tonight’s performance of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. Allow me to set the stage. I played Father Mark and KB played the caterer and emcee, Vinnie Black. It is not uncommon for people to approach Vinnie during the show and ask him to make special announcements for people having birthdays, anniversaries, etc. During dinner tonight, Vinnie approached me at the side of the room, away from any audience members. He looked a little flummoxed. “I don’t know what to do about this,” he began, “This woman just came up to me and asked me to wish her husband a happy 45th birthday. Then she told me he has a terminal illness and this is going to be his last birthday, and she wants me to give him a special greeting, and I don’t know what to do.”
Well, KB had come to me (I also play Vinnie sometimes), so I had to give it my best shot. “Well, wish him a happy birthday; absolutely do that,” I told him, “but as for the rest of it – you can’t address that directly. You could say, ‘Let’s wish him a very special birthday,’ or something like that, but I think that’s all you can do in this setting.” KB nodded in agreement. When the time came for him to do announcements, that’s exactly how he put it – “. . . a really special birthday . . .” and everyone gave him a hand, and we moved on. I hope they were OK with that.
I’m still puzzling over this one a little. I’m not sure exactly where the line is here – this show is such a mix of reality and illusion, and the audience is such an integral part of the show, but on the other hand, did that unfortunate woman really have a right to introduce this dimension of her life into a giddy evening of audience participation theatrics? I think I have a general idea of where to draw the lines, and I’m satisfied that we handled this appropriately, but the borders of appropriateness seem a little hazy in this neck of the woods.