Sunday, January 17, 2010

Endings, Beginnings and Re-grouping...

I haven't taken up enough of your time with my website, twitter, social network pages, etc., so, bohmerblog.
I'm laughing inside right now. Or crying. So I'm doing what
all healthy americans do - I'm visiting my need-for-therapy onto the internet in the form of a one-sided conversation.

The push for my doing this was a recent note I posted on Facebook, regarding the announcement that RAGTIME would close (note is posted below). It got the largest number of comments of anything I've ever posted and was sent around to other folks, etc. It was suggested to me at that time that I should do more writing, Ha Ha.
I have no illusions that anything more than the subject matter of that note gave it popularity. I did little more than report what I witnessed, experienced. But it occurred to me that the reasons I wrote it were twofold - 1. I really didn't know what to do with my feelings about the experience and this oddly seemed like a way of working it out. 2. There was, even to the end, so much rumor and misinformation that drove or undrove RAGTIME. It felt right to let those who cared to know how it went down, from the point of view of an involved witness.

It seems right that my first entry should be that note. Maybe it'll be my last. Probably not.
Transitions are tough in theatre. You make a new family with every production. You are tasked to create moving, fragile, living art with your family. You open yourself completely to the process because truth is all that works, an audience is rarely moved by less. You dive all-in. You trust. You believe. You hope.You Love.
Then, for all the usual reasons, it's over. It effects us all differently. I've seen some of my fellow actors not able to do anything but weep thru their final performances, start to finish. Some sail thru with humor and bravado. Me - I usually go kind of numb thru the final days, focusing on the "bright side", acting like the "seasoned pro" who's been there a million times. Days later, the blues. What's my life? What does it mean? What's the value of this crazy mission?
The cure for this? Always the same - creativity. Hal Prince says that when he opens a show, he wants something new on his desk the next day. I've followed this most of my career, it mostly works. It's good for unexpected endings too.
Luckily, My buddy Neil Berg had asked me to play Peter in THE 12, his rock musical about the Disciples/Apostles. That provided a wealth of transitional healing.
Transition is also about permanent family. The world is so full of stormy seas right now, pillars of sand. What would any of us do without those who've known us the longest, loved us the hardest? Yeah, give me that gift, that Cure, that fortunate life.

So...thanks for reading as I adjust my perspective...transition.


"The Era of Ragtime had run out..."

It seems like the good ones just can't last.
At 7:30pm tonight, our 1/2 hour call, our producers called us to the stage. Kevin McCollum spoke. "unfortunately, we have to close". it kind of becomes a blur after that as you digest this. But we all got clear in the head enough to hear that it would be January 3rd. This Sunday. 1 weeks' notice. Then real shock sets in. We all knew we were in a struggle. We all knew it would be a tough road with a narrow chance of success. But we had seen our houses increase, Positive things happen in the media (TIME mag's best musical of the year, THE VIEW) and we felt we would at least be taking a stab at Jan-Feb, the toughest time on Broadway for a show to survive.
But in the end, Broadway is ruled by real estate. FENCES needs a theatre. And there are only so many theatres. FENCES Has a Movie star. Broadway is Business and right now Business could not be more fragile. It's always fragile, so that's saying something. Movie Stars are a "safer" bet to fill seats, though other shows this season have shown they are no guarantee. Bottom line - Our theatre is/was not ours, and we lost it.

My take? Devastating. Because Ragtime was so very, very good. If you are one of the lucky who saw it, I can tell you that, as special as it was to see, it was all of that to be in. Remarkable on every level. And the most unified, brilliantly talented company I've ever been a part of. We fought hard to survive, to make each show vital, to be fully present for our audiences - and constantly grateful for the privilege to work, to share our story.

Thank you to everyone who came to see it, and to everyone who told someone else to come and see it. if you haven't yet, you have 7 more chances.

I am grateful to the universe for allowing the planets to align long enough for this small miracle to happen. I am grateful that I was a part of it. Our producers showed real courage putting their money into this show. I believe they did it because RAGTIME delivered that magical thing that we go to the theatre for, that thing no one can figure out how to bottle -- Because audiences were moved. Audiences were changed.

(1/26/10 - it should be noted that at no time in the meeting described above did any producer or anyone else announce that FENCES was coming into the Neil Simon Theatre. That was speculation among cast and crew, Based on a "Walk-through" inspection that Denzel Washington and Producers did during an understudy rehearsal for RAGTIME. At this writing, the Neil Simon Theatre has no production scheduled and will likely stand empty for several months.)


  1. Dear Ron,
    You are as eloquent in writing as you are on the stage. Here's to a new "chapter" and exploration.
    I am fan and friend.

  2. It was a lovely production, and I was indeed lucky enough to see it.

    Sad to say that RAGTIME may be a show much like SHE LOVES ME by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick...a beautifully written show that never runs as long as it should on Broadway.

    Those of us who love the show will mourn it's premature closing, but it will return and endure.


  3. I was at a workshop yesterday where I explained what it feels like to not be able to be creative in the work that you do. It is so important for us to find outlets for our creativity. Keep on keepin' on!