as pretty as David, as robotic and numb as Victoria

Monday, June 11, 2007

An Ode to Raul (David Hyde Pierce doesn't get an ode, so suck it, Frasier-boy)

Since you don't need a literary agent or a publisher to post whatever you god damn please online (thank you, internet, for both that and free porn, I can use my blog for good or evil. Fear not - usually it will be for evil. (Everyone I work with thinks I'm a bitch for my previous fat-bashing post of Beth Ditto of The Gossip. I can't say I didn't have a moral judgment call in writing it, but in the end, comedy triumphed.)

But today's post will be used for good. Good, in this case, in the form of this man:

I first saw Raul Esparza perform as Riff-Raff in the revival of The Rocky Horror Show in 2000, when I was 17. Growing up I had a thing for goth boys (still do; re: My Chemical Romance), and Riff-Raff was all goth'd up in the show. See for yourself:

Hot. By my standards anyway. But then he opened his mouth and sang and I melted. THIS MAN IS AMAZING. His vocal range was phenomenal. Who is this person??? During intermission I fumbled through my Playbill to catch his name and where he's been all my life. This was his first Broadway play. He had done theatre in Miami and Chicago, and he went to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

For my HS newspaper, I was the arts editor and wrote a theatre review of the show, making special mention of the man behind Riff-Raff, what I considered the breakout of an already extremely entertaining show that's hard to upstage. But in my eyes, he did it.

That same season, Tick...Tick...Boom! was hitting Off-Broadway and I was beyond excited. Rent was pretty much my bible at the time and Jonathan Larson was my personal icon. And who, of all people, did I find out was playing my one true idol?

That's right. Riff-Raff, star of my Broadway sex fantasies.

I saw the show in the third row and had never been so certain that me and him were meant to be together. I'd be riding the subway and he'd be there, and we'd make eye contact, and strike up conversation, and faaaall iiiiin loooove. I was deeply enamored. It felt like fate. This person had entered my life in the form of art. (Also, he was a brilliant lead actor in one of the best performances I had ever seen in my life. Probably helped that I was emotionally involved in the subject matter and the theater was incredibly intimate.)

A few weeks later there was a Broadway in the Parks concert and he was performing songs from Tick... tick... boom!. Of course, I went, complete with a page-long letter I nervously wrote on the train about how amazing I thought he was, how inspiring he was for an aspiring actress/singer like me. I went to Bryant Park and was able to go right up to him. I introduced myself - "Mr. Esparza? Excuse me?" - and that I was a big fan. We took a photo, he signed an autograph on my writing notebook, and he was a sweet guy.

Long story short, I've now met him about eight times. I drove down to D.C. - twice - to see him in Sunday in the Park with George and Merrily We Roll Along at the Kennedy Center. I've seen him in Cabaret, Taboo, Comedians, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and finally, Company, of which he was up for Best Actor in a Musical.

Everytime I've met him I've sent flowers backstage - once I sent a teddy bear that read "Someone At USC Loves You". I tried to toe the line of "genuine fan" and "serial killer/stalker". By the third time I met him, he knew my name. Outside of Chitty and Company, he's the one who came up to me. If you know me, I don't always look the same (hello, various hair dyes) but he still recognizes me each time I see him and always appreciates my fandom.

He's one of the sweetest, most sincere, talented people I've ever met and I'm incredibly proud to be a fan of his. I've seen him in his first Broadway play as a supporting role, and tonight on the Tony Awards I saw him sing "Being Alive" in front of a theatre of hundreds of people, and on national television in front of millions thousands (yeah, the Tony's don't exactly rake in TV audiences). It's somewhat cathartic for myself to see someone develop into a real star. He even had a caricature of himself framed on the wall at Sardi's. That is no small feat. That's legendary.

But alas, Raul did not win Best Actor tonight. I'm sure it's not far off, though. When I first heard "Being Alive" on the original Broadway soundtrack, honestly, I was bored by it. This was the big finale number to the climax? This is the climax? As far as I'm concerned, Bobby is a dull character and this song is ending the show on a low note.

But then I saw Company on Broadway with Raul as the lead role of Bobby. And as bias as I am, his performance of this song redefined it in my head and, seriously, in my heart. This is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, crushingly honest and vulnerable songs I've ever heard. I want this to be my wedding song. I want to love someone this much and be loved that much back.

Check it out for yourself. If I write a song anywhere near as good as this one then I can immediately retire.

Being Alive

Someone to hold you too close
Someone to hurt you too deep
Someone to sit in your chair
And ruin your sleep
And make you aware of being alive

Someone to need you too much
Someone to know you too well
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell
And give you support for being alive - being alive
Make me alive
Make me confused
Mock me with praise
Let me be used
Vary my days
But alone is alone, not alive.

Somebody hold me too close
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I'll always be there
As frightened as you of being alive
Being alive, being alive

Someone you have to let in
Someone whose feelings you spare
Someone who, like it or not
Will want you to share a little, a lot of being alive
Make me alive
Make me confused
Mock me with praise
Let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive

Somebody crowd me with love
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I'll always be there
As frightened as you to help us survive
Being alive, being alive,
Being alive, being alive.

1 comment:

Justin R. Buchbinder said...

Two corrections:

Radio City held just over 5,000 people for the Tonys... so feel free to give him credit there.

As for Tonys, I'm pretty sure they JUST break the one million households mark... so give him the credit there, too.