From time to time, we performers are given what I like to call "gifts." In tonight's performance of "The Nutcracker," I was given such a gift.
Today seemed to go by as if it was some sort of hazy dream. My next-to-last Dross was great, but there was something different that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It was almost as if my subconscious was trying to stop time and make everything go by as slowly as it could. Needless to say, I didn't succeed.
In the second performance, I portrayed my last "Mouse King." As tradition commands, I tormented the Soldiers, Bunny and Nutcracker backstage before the "battle." The children had no way of knowing that this show was any different from any other. To me, this marked the death of a tradition.
Zoom forward to my last battle. Here is where I was given the "gift." A "gift" is something that I define as an opportunity which happens during live theatre that isn't planned, thereby giving the artist the chance to use their creativity. The amount of creativity the artist is able to employ quickly during such an event defines a part of their artistic maturity in my book. Note, it is nearly impossible to accept and use such a gift if one takes themselve too seriously.
During Todd Bolender's battle scene, while the Mouse King is attacking the Nutcracker, the Bunny pulls the King's tail in order to distract him. The King, surprised by the pull sweeps his sword and accidentally swipes his own tail. His pain causes him to jump which also startles the Bunny, thereby causing her to jump.
Tonight, once the tail-swipe and jump were accomplished, I looked to see my tail laying on the floor. The Bunny didn't know her own strength evidently, and pulled my tail clean off.
I did what any agonizing soldier would do in this scenario, I picked up my tail with hopes that the doctor would be able to re-attach it. In the meantime, I beat the Nutcracker senseless-both with my sword (as choreographed) and the tail-much to the delight of the audience.
I must say, this was the most fun I have ever had as the Mouse King. Naturally, I had already decided my motivational theme for the evening before entering the stage, but once this happened, all characterization shifted. I now had something real to play off of. Moments like these are what I absolutely live for in theatre.
I cannot think of a more monumental way to say good-bye to such a fun role. With tonight's fiasco, I was given the chance to have a closing performance that I will never forget. I can't think of a time when I have ever received so much applause for this character. It was as if I had a true farewell and curtain call of sorts. What a rush.