Just after Ragtime’s stirring opening number, Father says something to Mother as he leaves on his year-long journey: Nothing much happens in a year.
In many ways, this is a typical Saturday morning. I’m writing this and procrastinating. On the agenda is grocery shopping, doing laundry, running a few errands, cleaning up the apartment, and muddling through some leftover work tasks. Ben is sound asleep on the couch, not yet stirring, and anxious to go to his dance classes. Tonight, Jill will arrive, and we will have a rare weekend together in New York.
But this weekend, like much of this past year, also is atypical. Tomorrow, we head to a brunch that will have the feel of an extended family reunion, and then we will go to (eek!) the Tony Awards.
It’s something I never dreamed would happen in my lifetime, and only fantasized about in the broadest terms a year ago. But in a rare moment of wisdom, the nominating committee recognized Ragtime with six nominations — an amazing feat for a show that closed five months ago.
In many ways, the nominations bring a bittersweet sense of closure to a show that many feel should still be running. They represent long-deserved acknowledgement for people who have toiled in the business for decades, an affirmation of some whose careers are just starting to explode, and recognition of a production that forever changed the lives of everyone involved with it.
And a year ago, it had only just begun.
Ben was the last person from the original D.C. cast to perform, and his debut was on Broadway. Closing for him, and for everyone involved, represented a huge transition into the unknown.
Journalists are trained to work with the 5Ws and an H. The lasting lesson from my college training is to ask two more questions: “So what?” and “What’s next?”
In this case, the answer to the “So what?” is obvious. This experience has changed our lives for good. And fortunately, after months of uncertainty, we now know what’s next.
But for one last weekend, we can remember, recognize and reflect.
From closing to closure, we have a chance to celebrate. And we will.