Exclusive: What I Miss About Broadway, Written by Marsha Mason
The four-time Oscar nominee and veteran stage actor/director tells us what she misses most during this period of extended closure.
Marsha Mason is known for her Oscar-nominated performances in Cinderella Liberty and The Goodbye Girl, as well as roles in everything from Frasier to Grace and Frankie. A formidable presence on and off-Broadway, as well, Mason most recently starred in the Irish Repertory Theatre's 2019 production of Little Gem, earning a 2020 Outer Critics Circle honor.
Here, the four-time Oscar nominee and veteran stage actor/director describes what she misses most about working in the theater during this period of extended closure.
I miss the discipline of working on Broadway. On any stage, for that matter.
Getting ready for a performance by reciting, out loud, all my lines before leaving for the theater. Eating early and warming up my voice and body before going to the theater at least an hour and a half before half-hour is called backstage.
Arriving at the Stage Door and signing in.
Saying hello to everyone and asking how they're doing.
I miss walking on the stage and having a private moment looking out at the space and the empty seats and taking a deep breath and exhaling a sound, throwing it all the way to the balcony and beyond.
I miss beginning that connection with the theater. It focuses my mind on the work ahead and I get excited about the possibility of making magic. As I undress, I leave my daily world behind and begin the process of becoming the character. Exchanging my everyday clothes for my costume, the body of the character begins to become me. And just before places is called, I go down to the stage and stand quietly to hear the murmurs and sounds of the audience. Feeling and hearing their buzz, their excitement. Hooking myself into the energy in this shared space…
I say a prayer of gratitude and celebration for this wonderful experience that is about to begin. Making a commitment to do the very best I can for them, hopefully transporting them to another world of living and feeling. Helping them make the trip by experiencing the truth of all the moments on the stage in that particular performance.
Every performance is truly special. No two are exactly the same. How amazing!
I miss going to the theater! Several years ago, I had the great good fortune of being a Tony nominator and it required seeing every single show eligible for the award in the year. It was an amazing and somewhat intimidating experience, but I realized that no matter the show, every performance is an event. It is a special event every single time for the people responsible for its creation and the people in the audience.
I miss being part of that visceral exchange of energy! The possibility of experiencing something new: a surprise, an idea that grabs at my throat and heart, a moment of illumination, a moment of magic.
I miss the creation of memories that occurs when you see and hear something extraordinary on a stage. When you surprise yourself with an eruptive, "AH!" or "Ha-ha!" or an "OH!" When the set or the actors or the director and the lighting or the playwright and the composer and lyricist reveals a truth that is universal and recognizable to us all. I miss that.
The palpable exchange of real, visceral, creative energy and emotions, and there is always the possibility of witnessing greatness. Greatness shared.
I deeply miss the experience of live theater.