Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Best Man

This life I got, it's good. Really good, actually. But sometimes it's kinda like being in the circus. Ya see, I go places, show up, do my tricks, and then move on to the next show as soon as I can. That's just how it's gotta be so I can make a living.

Along the way, I meet a lot of terrific people, some of whom become long-lasting friends and some of whom are my friends just for that time we're together. I don't mind. Working in the theatre requires all of us to instantly band together as a team (and hopefully as friends, although you never know) to achieve the common goal: a great show that people will respond to.

Sometimes, in the heat and rush of putting it all together, you might forget about the individual contributions of people because you're just trying to get it all done. Maybe you'll move on to the next show without really ever having time to reflect on what made the thing you just did so special.

But sometimes, things will happen that will force you to reflect.

I've been associated with the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company in Chicago since their inception 10 years ago and they're always one of my favorite companies to work for. Just a couple of weeks ago, we opened their new play "The Best Man" by Gore Vidal. It has a terrific cast, great direction, great script and, as a result, has been getting tremendous reviews and great houses. It was a really satisfying experience all around, and when things work like this, it makes me proud to do what I do.

Yesterday afternoon, in a matinee performance, Gene Janson, who plays the former president Art Hocksteader, collapsed onstage and was rushed to the hospital by the members of the cast and the audience. He died a short time later with his family at the hospital. He was 72.

I didn't know Gene well. He was celebrating his 50th year as a professional actor in Chicago. I hadn't worked with him before, but he was extremely friendly and took a real interest in what I was doing. As an actor, he literally stole the show, and audiences loved him. He was doing what he did best and it was a true honor to work with him.

I want to send my condolences and best wishes to his family, and also to the cast and crew of "The Best Man who are devastated by this loss. Gene will be truly missed.

Today's performances of the show have been cancelled, but, in true show business fashion, the show must go on. "The Best Man" will return soon, and will continue running. But for all of us, we have this moment to reflect on why we do this and what it means to everyone when it's done well.

Thanks, Gene.


Anonymous Alex said...

How awful. My God Linz. I'm so sory for his family and his friends. Thanks for the post.

10/05/2006 12:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Lindsay,
Thank you so much for your beautiful reflection about Dad (Gene Janson), theatre and this precious life. We are making it through in part from all of the amazing support that has emerged from those in the theatre community. Thank you for taking the time to share a little bit about this remarkable man-The Best Man!
Maureen Janson

11/06/2006 12:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay,
we all are so honored and blessed by the outpouring of love and respect for our father! If he knew people were blogging about him, he would love it.
I'm happy for you that you had a chance to know my dad, Gene Janson..even if it was for a short time. He was one in a million, and his passing leaves a huge void for all of us.

Colleen Janson Wares

11/06/2006 5:40 PM


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