When I was 17 I competed in the “Macbeth” contest on Broadway. High school students from all around New York City participated, seeking to best all others in Act 2 Scene 2 of the Scottish Play. My scene partner, Phillip Baskerville, and I advanced, round after round, until we found ourselves standing onstage to compete in the finals at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. The judges were the producers of Macbeth, currently playing in this Broadway theatre, as well as the inimitable Glenda Jackson who was starring as Lady Macbeth.
Shortly before our turn, I became immobilized with fear. My heart racing was nothing new to me, but frozen legs were a first. What was I going to do? “Phillip! … ..You have to push me onstage,” I pleaded. With a great shove Phillip succeeded in launching me onstage and into my opening monologue. Once offstage, neither of us could remember how our performance went, but hoped that we somehow did our best to replicate the choices we’d made during countless rehearsals.
Finally it was time to announce the results. First were the third place finishers, and it was not us. Then second place went to the students from the High School of the Performing Arts (our greatest competition). At last we heard our own names called as the victors! We appeared on the news, interviewed by Christiane Amanpour and were featured in an article by the great theatre critic Howard Kissel. As we toured the theatre on a subsequent visit we also got to meet Christopher Plummer. “Don’t be an actor,” he warned, while sweeping his sword and marking a battle scene, utterly undermining his own words with every jab.
So when people ask if I have performed on Broadway I say “yes.” But I rarely tell them how I did, or that without my amazing scene partner, I would never have made it onstage. There are so many resistances that keep us from going forward and trying, but I hope this piece serves as a good shove to push you where you want to go.