Audiences. They’re like snowflakes. No two are alike. Yes. We do notice you. Example: we had a group last week who apparently thought it was a walking tour. Right from the get, they were changing seats, wandering thru the house, leaving and returning. Sometimes it’s as tho’ they’ve come to church, but not one of those shouting and jumping churches. Last night during our onstage half-hour they were so chatty I thought surely they’d be very vocally responsive and laffing. Pero, no. But then they stood at bows. It’s great when there are groups of students. So much of the show has to do with people who’ve spent the greater portion of their adult lives working, but everybody loves Gabe singing, “This is my first job…” and the students especially like “…and I’ll be twenty in three weeks, wha’s up?” Emjoy’s flight attendant dreaming of suggesting to a passenger where he might stow his omelet also makes everybody happy. It seems we all like to hear about big-shots and boors getting their comeuppance. It’s like getting a little something extra in your pay packet. And then some audience members join us afterward for the “Chicago Heroes” conversations, and are at times as incisive in theirs questioning as was Studs.
This has been such a fascinating experience for me. Because of course, I relate to each of the characters just as audiences do. Recently a local radio guy described the show to a listener this way: “It’s about us.” And so it’s about me, too. But I’ve been thinking about these ideas, the brilliant insights that these characters offer, six days a week since late February. It’s changed me. For the better.