Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ten Minutes Ago

Ten minutes ago I saw you
I looked up when you came through the door
My head started reeling
You gave me the feeling
The room had no ceiling or floor
--Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Ten minutes ago she was a secretary. Ten minutes ago she was a wedding singer. Ten minutes ago she was scooping poop. Ten minutes ago he was fired from TCBY. But now, they are Ethel Merman, Idina Menzel, Laura Benanti, and songwriter Jeff Marx.

Never underestimate people of talent and ambition, even if that ambition seems far-fetched or muted by shyness. That man waiting your table before you head off to Cry-Baby really could be a Broadway star next year. That kid promoting his songs on BroadwaySpace could write the next Hairspray. That girl with the funny voice who keeps calling you about attending her reading could write the next Les Miserables.

Sure, there are a lot of folks out there knocking on doors who really aren’t the best dancers, aren’t that great with their monologue, and maybe don’t even write strong lyrics. But, some day, if you open your eyes, you’ll find someone who really is the undiscovered Heather Headley or Marc Shaiman.

Idina Menzel has my favorite story, told in Making It on Broadway. She was a wedding singer, one of the same that gets pushed to the back of the brain because she sings “while people chew.” Worst of all, the bandleader of her band once had the sound guy turn her mic down so his girlfriend would be louder. Some time after that, she starred in Rent, Lippa’s The Wild Party, Aida, Wicked, See What I Wanna See, and now people are paying $20 a pop to buy Enchanted, where she became the Disney princess and $15 to hear her new solo album.

But it’s no Cinderella story. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of determination, a lot of faith in yourself to become something. But the truth is that Idina Menzel was always Idina Menzel, and starring in Rent didn’t change that. If she had never gotten the Rent gig, she’d have the same voice, the same talents, even if she was an administrative assistant.

So, the quiz of the day is:

1. Who will the people around you become in ten minutes?

A) Someone I will later regret not taking seriously.
B) Someone who’ll invite me to the opening night party.
C) Someone I’ll be glad for keeping in touch with.
D) Someone who could have made me a ton of money.

2. In ten minutes, who will you become?

A) a Broadway performer
B) a Broadway songwriter
C) a Broadway book-writer
D) a Broadway producer
E) a Broadway director
F) a Broadway set-designer
G) a Broadway costumer
H) a Broadway historian
I) all of the above except A and C
J) all of the above except A-F
K) I’m going to Hollywood.

the Broadway Mouth
Originally posted March 27, 2008

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