Friday, December 26, 2008

The Glass Ceiling of 29

There’s a little Mary and Joseph in all of us. I know that it’s after Christmas and Christmas references are out-dated, but this was something that came to me while reflecting on the season.

Mary and Joseph didn’t have it easy at all. She wasn’t married and was pregnant. He was an honorable man engaged to a pregnant girl. There was a census. She traveled far on a donkey with absolutely no back support. She gave birth without a midwife in a barn. Then they had to flee for Egypt. I mean, honestly, you’d think giving birth to the son of God would be a little easier.

So, if things were so darn difficult for them, why shouldn’t they be for poor fools like us trying to make it on Broadway? Wouldn’t it be nice if we were at some party ten states away from New York, chatting with an old friend who happened to be dating a Broadway producer looking for new talent. A firm handshake, a few laughs, a couple sips of Diet Coke, and low and behold, you’re handing him/her a libretto and getting a call the next day about how he/she stayed up all night imagining the possibilities, and he/she called his/her good pal Andrea McArdle about starring in it.

Unfortunately, things don’t happen that easily for anyone. Making it in anything involves monumental struggle, sacrifice, and determination.

The worst part is, statistically, you have such a little chance of getting anywhere until you’re too run-down to keep fighting.

Most people in this business seem to make it in their 30s. If you look at the cast of Friends, they didn’t get on the show until they were in their 30s. And I don’t think it was just a matter of getting the right audition. Yes, they all had short-lived shows before they hit the cash cow, but you have to imagine their lives before they finally made it. How many years did Jennifer Aniston have to wait tables, room with annoying people, struggle to make ends meet before she finally got Friends? And how many other people missed out on the same audition because they finally threw in the towel at twenty-nine?

The big reason people don’t make it until they are in their 30s is because they don’t deserve to. Of course, there are those prodigies out there like Sutton Foster, but the reality is that we simply need time to develop our talents. If we think we’re a genius at twenty-five, wait until we see ourselves at thirty-three.

The question then is, will we make it to thirty-three?

I recently reconnected with the female lead from my reading, and I was thrilled to hear that she had started getting some parts worthy of her talent. But of course, she’s probably now in her early thirties. It’s that time.

the Broadway Mouth
December 26, 2008

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