“Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” Joachim de Posada
Are You Devoted?
We’d gotten what we wanted. Orlando had promised Orly that Pippin’s director would recommend him for a role one day, and the day had come. Orly had learned that when you show up prepared and focused, there are no wasted auditions. I felt like he was being rewarded … not only for a strong audition … but for the grace and good will he’d shown when his younger brother got the role instead.
But now we had a new conflict. The developmental workshop rehearsals were scheduled from Saturday to Wednesday with the final reading on Thursday. We’d booked our pre-planned trip to New York City on that Wednesday.
Ideally, we’d reschedule the trip for another time so Orly could participate in the reading, but it wasn’t that easy.
The flights and tickets to the event we were attending were non-refundable. The hotel would cancel our reservation but charge a one-night penalty. And then the real deal breaker … Hamilton. The tickets had cost us a fortune and were also non-refundable. I thought of reselling them, but we learned a very expensive lesson when it comes to purchasing theatre tickets.
At the time of purchase, we selected the Will-Call option, which means they’d be at the box office of the theater. But guess what? We had to show our driver’s license to pick up the tickets. They will only release them to the purchaser. Buyer Beware! If you are purchasing tickets in a different state, choose the option to print your tickets at home or have them mailed to you. You need to be in physical possession of them in order to sell or transfer them. This tip will save you big time if you ever have to change your plans like we did. We stood to lose thousands of dollars if we cancelled the trip.
“Why don’t you email the director? Maybe the workshop dates can be moved around by a few days,” I suggested to Orlando.
“Are you crazy?” He shook his head no. “They’re not going to change the dates of the workshop for us!”
“We don’t lose anything by asking,” I insisted.
“This is pointless, but fine,” Orlando appeased me.
A few days later, the director responded that the dates were set in stone because they were flying in the director and composer from New York City. How ironic.
We told the kids about the trip and the conflict. You can imagine their disappointment.
“Do I have to do the workshop?” Orly asked.
“It depends on how committed you are to your acting,” I replied.
“But I don’t even know what a reading is. What if we give up going to New York and the reading isn’t any fun? What if I don’t like it?”
This was a tough decision for a kid. Heck, it was a tough decision for us. But life is about choices. The right answer doesn’t come in a gift box with a bow wrapped around it.
“I’m sure you prefer to go to New York than do the workshop. That sounds like a lot more fun than the reading. But opportunities like this don’t come around often and you never know if you’ll have another chance like it. You’re going to be working with a director from Broadway and an up and coming composer from NYC! You don’t know what this workshop can mean for you in the future. Maybe nothing at all. But what if it’s the beginning of other possibilities? That’s the thing, you just never know. This is a defining moment in your life. What are you willing to sacrifice for your dreams?”
Orly looked down at the floor, “Okay, I’ll stay for the workshop.”
I thought about my dad and how proud he’d be if he were alive to witness this moment. He wrote a book called, “Don’t Eat The Marshmallow…Yet!” It explains that the secret to success is the ability to delay gratification, meaning that you are willing to resist the temptation for an immediate reward to wait for a later reward. Orly didn’t eat the marshmallow. I knew right then that no matter what he does in the future, he will be successful.
The decision was made. We emailed the director and confirmed that Orly would participate in the workshop.
After much consideration, we tried to minimize our losses and salvage our trip. I’d fly to New York with the boys on Wednesday morning as planned. Orlando would stay behind with Orly and meet us in New York. They could jump on the 5am flight on Friday morning and still make it to our scheduled event and Hamilton. It seemed like a good plan … until we arrived at Orly’s first rehearsal.
We dropped off the younger boys at their friend’s house so we could stay with Orly. We were all a little nervous. We arrived early and peeked through the glass window of the classroom. Students stood in rows with music stands in front of them, facing a man playing the piano. They all sang in unison. It felt grand.
The director spotted us and opened the door.
“Listen up everyone. I want you to say hi to Orly. He’ll be playing the role of Kurt.”
“Hi Orly!” The students greeted him cheerfully.
“Welcome,” the pianist, Mark Sonnenblick, waved us in.
We walked in quietly and grabbed some seats in the back. The UM director walked over with a young woman, while the students resumed their rehearsal. “Orly, this is Maggie,” he whispered. “She’s directing this musical.”
“Hi Maggie,” Orly said. Maggie was friendly. She handed him some music sheets and talked to him for a little bit. The UM director kneeled in front of us to tell us what was going on. “Turns out Act one, which is the Act we’re working on during this workshop, revolves mainly around Kurt,” he said with a smile. “Your son is going to have three major solos.” Orly’s mouth dropped. My heart stopped.
Orlando saw my face and knew what I was thinking. He put his arm around me and whispered, “There’s no point in you being in another city when your heart will be here. Don’t worry about the money.”
I almost cried. There was no way I could get on a plane to New York and miss seeing my son perform three solos. That night I cancelled our three remaining reservations and booked us on the Friday morning flight with Orlando and Orly. It was the best decision I could’ve made.
The next five days were a whirlwind. Orly worked harder than he’s ever worked in his life. Mark, Maggie, and the students were incredibly kind and patient with him. They spent hours upon hours rehearsing. During Orly’s free time, he worked with his vocal teacher.
Because this was a workshop, the script changed constantly and Orly had to adapt to new lines and new scenes. He was resilient and rolled with the punches.
By the night of the reading, Orly wasn’t the same kid that walked into rehearsal the first day. He’d poured his heart and soul into this performance, and had grown as a singer and actor. He’d bonded with the students, the director, and the composer. And he was a part of something that was beautiful. Mark’s work is magnificent. His musical belongs on Broadway. The day it gets there, Orly will have been a part of its inception.
There was a dramatic scene toward the end of the play when Orly stood singing his solo in front of the audience and the rest of the Cast rose from their seats to join him in song. Goosebumps filled my arms and tears streamed down my face from how lucky I felt to be in that room, witnessing that moment. This experience was more special than any of us could’ve ever imagined.
A Moment of Clarity
We learned some pretty expensive lessons from this experience like to always buy refundable airfare and the tip about ticket delivery. But we also learned that experiences are worth more than money; that opportunities must be seized when they appear; and that you are rewarded when you delay gratification.
The next morning at the crack of dawn we boarded the flight to New York City. Orly buckled in and leaned over to look at us, “Thanks for pushing me to do the workshop. I wouldn’t have traded one minute of it for New York.”
I laughed, “Well, you’re a pretty lucky kid considering you’re getting to do both!”
He leaned back on his chair and with a big smile on his face said, “Yep. We need to get to know that place, since I’m going to live there when I grow up!”