The Odd Couple taught me another lesson on becoming more professional.
(Yesterday was Lesson #1.)
Lesson #2: Commitment
You already know about Arnett's decisions to leap in and bow out. I so truly respect him for those decisions.
As it turns out, his next decision places him in the Respect Pantheon.
Since the very beginning of the project, we'd all imagined that Arnett would play his marvelous trumpet at some point, probably during a scene change.
Long story short: Arnett came to opening night, trumpet in hand, ready for action. When he came into the green room, the cast jumped to their feet, taking turns embracing him. While it had been only eight days since his decision, it had been a long time for the production: we had worked hard in eight days to bring the show to opening night — and this felt like the return of a long-lost friend.
Of course, he played beautifully.
For members of the audience who didn't know the back story, it was simply a musical treat. Arnett played a lovely "Tenderly."
For the audience that knew (some of) what had happened, it musically resolved several issues: yes, Arnett is still a collaborator in this production, and, yes, of course, Arnett's trumpet is the source of great beauty.
For the cast and crew, it was a wonderful resolution. Available Light is about theater, yes, and it is also about relationships. And this relationship had weathered a Great Challenge — because everyone remained an adult.
What was, frankly, even more amazing to me was that Arnett came to every show. He returned to play, beautifully, for every performance. I asked him why — and he said, smilingly, characteristically smoothly, "Well, it's on my calendar."
Indeed it was on his calendar. A professional's calendar.
Would You? Could You?
I'm not sure how well I would have responded in the same situation.
When I've bowed out, I usually also disappear. I don't recall having the courage — the professionalism — to return to the scene. I've preferred to dust the indelicate situation under the rug, step away, and move on.
Arnett's a pro. He came right to the scene to put his best talents into play. That's a true artist.
Admiring Arnett taught me a lot about commitment.