The thing is I remember seeing Our Town when I was in grade school. It was a production put on by a local public high school. I went to a Catholic school nearby and once a year we’d take a field trip during the day to see their shows.
These performances would likely have fallen into the waste bin of my memory had it not been for one actor–a brilliant performer who led the cast in Our Town but gave his best performance as Paul in Barefoot in the Park.
I don’t know if I ever knew this actor’s name, and I have only the most general recollection of his features: tall and lanky with brown hair. This incidentally describes most every guy I’ve had a crush on in my life, and I probably had a crush on this actor.
He graduated high school before I finished grade school, and I never enjoyed the shows at his alma mater as much after he was gone. For example, I less fondly recall a production of MASH where they played the song “Suicide is Painless” on repeat through every lengthy scene change.
This past Sunday I saw Our Town at a professional theatre in Atlanta. I was hesitant to purchase a ticket because I’m trying to be thrifty right now, but every time I’d saw ads for the Atlanta show memories of watching my favorite actor as a kid would resurface. Brief flashes of him on stage that left me wondering what the plot of Our Town was and which character he’d played (either the stage manager or George Gibbs).
I’m glad I saw Our Town again and not just because Act 3 features a cemetery. The message of the play–appreciating life and our connection with others in the moment–is one that resonates with me now. And it’s an idea I’m glad that I was exposed to as a twelve year old via a performance by an actor who I can barely recall but have yet to forget.