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  • How Does It Feel? — Part 1

    “In 1902, Father built a house on the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill. ... And all our family's days would be warm and fair.” — The Little Boy, opening lines of “Ragtime.”

    The curtain opened and there stood my son, opening the first Saturday night performance — not counting previews — of Broadway’s new revival of “Ragtime.”

    It had been a long journey to this point, and as Jill and I sat on the 7th row in the orchestra section, we were more nervous than Ben was.

    Arms interlocked, fingers crossed, tears filling our eyes, we watched as he maneuvered across the stage in the show’s stirring opening number. And just like you see in the movies, I found myself flashing back to that day in March when I took him to the understudy audition at the Kennedy Center.

    “And there was distant music…”

    At the time, we didn’t know if he had the vocal chops for the part, especially since the role called for performing with a 28-piece orchestra. And precedent was working against him; he had what he thought was a Kennedy Center jinx because some of his worst auditions had occurred there.

    “Do your best,” I told him, as we do at every audition. “As long as you do your best, everything else will take care of itself.” I recognize those are clichés, but we say them with all due sincerity, because that’s all we require of him as we make this journey.

    That day, we also came up with a new, more straightforward motto: “Kick ass. Take names. Have fun.” Perhaps not the most politically correct thing to say to an 11-year-old, but we say it anyway. And he did and does to this day.

    For all of the hard work and sacrifice that this requires on the part of everyone in our family, you have to keep the “fun” part in perspective. After all, he’s still a kid, and this is an adventure equal to any rollercoaster ride you can find in any theme park.

    Or, as he says, “You know what the worst part about boredom is? It’s boring.”

    This has been anything but boring.