A good friend of mine hosted a party last night, where we watched the presentation of the Tony awards. Now, the whole show was, frankly, amazing, but I could have left after the first ten minutes and still gotten something meaningful out of the broadcast.
For those of you who don’t want to click some random hyperlink in some schmo’s blog (a link that in all probability will just redirect you to that effin’ Rick Astley video… AGAIN), the host of the Tonys, James Corden, performed a fantastic number, all about his experience watching live theatrical productions as a child. He realized that, with a bit of work, he could be that performer on that stage. He then does the requisite montage of slipping into different musical roles and costumes, which is, of course, an absolute hoot to watch.
But it’s the end of the number that really gets me. The lights go down, the music softens so it can build back up, and Corden starts singing to all the children participating in their first performances in grade schools or at community centers. With passion and emotion in his voice, he sings “to every Broadway would-be”:
“Don’t wonder if this could be you. It absolutely could be!”
And with that, the nominees for the musical acting awards came in and joined in for the final chorus: “This could be you up here, on the stage with us… And this could be where you belong.”
I got a little choked up at that moment… Heck, I’m getting misty just writing about it.
You see, I think a lot about art. All the arts. Typically, I come at them from the perspective of the audience: how does this song/book/cartoon show for tiny girls/play make me a better person? For a while – a good long while – I’d forgotten that art can do something for the artist. And I got my reminder from the Tony awards:
Art provides a sense of community, of purpose.
Art creates a space of belonging.
Art cultivates ambition and a drive to improve one’s self.
Art generates relationships, friendships that can last for decades.
And, most importantly, art give people who don’t get the above anywhere else to find them on the page, or the canvas, or the stage.
I used to do a lot of theater. While I don’t think I belong on the stage now the same way I did before, I’m happy to have been there at all. And it’s to think that, with a little work, I could belong there again.