Why I don’t get nervous on opening night.
I’ve opened two shows in the last two days, Spring Awakening on Sunday night and Daddy Long Legs last night. (And no, I didn’t plan it that way – but in today’s theatrical climate, when getting a theater, a director, a cast, etc. all signed on for the same time period is like trying to land the Space Shuttle – you take whatever window you get.)
And on each opening night I’ve had lots of folks ask me . . . no, tell me, “You must be so nervous!”
The truth is . . . I don’t get nervous on opening nights.
Am I nervous months before when I’m still searching for a star? Surely. First preview, when an actual paying audience tells you what they think by the sound of applause? Yeppers. When I have fundraising deadlines? Oh yeah.
But the irony is . . . as I get closer to opening night, I get less and less nervous. And on opening night, I’m just not.
Because at that point, it’s out of my control.
That’s tough for a control freak like me to say, but it’s true. Producers have a lot to control before that magical opening night. You’ve got money to raise, sets to build, notes to give, relationships to manage, artists to support and a whole lot of advertising to do. And it all leads to opening night.
And then, well, the show is frozen, the critics have filed their reviews . . . so what can you do?
Nothing. For that one night, it’s up to the critics, the audience, and the man or woman upstairs. The only reason to be nervous is if you haven’t done your job beforehand . . . and haven’t done everything you can to get the right star, make changes based on audience feedback, and of course, raise the money you need to raise.
But if you have, then try to relax on your opening night and enjoy what you and all of your partners have done.
Because the next day, a whole new chapter begins, and good reviews or bad reviews, you’re going to have a lot of work to do.
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