Daddy Warbucks was wrong.
Annie was one of the first musicals I fell in love with.
Ok, maybe what I really fell in love with was the girl playing Annie. She was totes adorbs. I was about 9-years-old, and I think she was, gulp, 13!
My father was the Assistant Director of our local community theater production, so I got to hang around the show (and her) a lot. (I’m not sure I ever spoke to her, although I did hand her, without speaking, mind you, a pair of Annie shoelaces as a closing night gift – and did get a hug!)
But I did more than semi-stalk a 13-year-old while I was around the show. I memorized all the songs, and a lot of the lines too.
One of those lines, one of the most powerful in Annie, is one that I revisit often as a way not to live my life, and certainly not a way to achieve success in this business.
Early in the show, Daddy Warbucks says…
“You don’t have to be nice to the people you meet on the way up, if you’re not coming back down again.”
While I’ve never been that much of an a-hole, early on in my career in this teeny-tiny biz, I did make a bunch of relationship mistakes, not realizing that this business is like a big, albeit at times, dysfunctional, family.
And if you’re going to stick around, the people you are doing business with today are the people you’re going to be doing business with tomorrow.
More importantly, because this business, and this art form, is a collaborative one by nature, the people you don’t want something from today are the people you’re going to need something from tomorrow.
That’s why, no matter what level you are in your career, it never pays to be like Warbucks. You may get a little gain in the short term when you step on or over someone, and you might feel like you got to one-up somehow, but who in the theater is here for a short term gain? There is no such thing as day-traders in art.
If you want a long, stable and successful career in the theater, don’t be a Daddy.
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