|With my “old friend” Jeff Williams|
“Hey old friend, what do you say, old friend….”
I had a fab lunch/reunion with my fellow Syracuse University alum Jeff Williams today here in Las Vegas as he’s about to open in the Nevada Conservatory Theatre production of “Seminar” – a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Theresa Rebeck.
From the Nevada Conservatory Theatre website:
A provocative comedy from Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck, which appeared on Broadway in 2011 with Alan Rickman originating the lead role.
In Seminar, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, an international literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon and hearts are unmoored.
The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious as innocence collides with experience in this biting Broadway comedy.
Jeff is a veteran of several Broadway productions (Susan Stroman’s The Music Man; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; The Pirate Queen) and national touring companies (The Will Rogers Follies; Me and My Girl). NCT is lucky to have him.
I’m seeing his performance Saturday night and can’t wait. I love to see old friends doing well. (I had a talent for hanging out with the talented kids in college. I hoped it would rub off….)
College life builds friendships on the foundations of stress, pressure, stress, celebration, stress, youth… and did I mention stress? Jeff and I ran in the same crowd back in the day. He’s always been a talent to be reckoned with, and no matter how many years go by we know we did this “college thing” together.
One of my few regrets from my college days was being cast in a production of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along and not being able to do it. Jeff was cast as the lead – “Franklin Shepard” and I was to play his best friend “Charley.” I always remember watching Jeff on his opening night, thinking how fantastic he was in the role, and how I wish I had been onstage with him for that journey. In theater, we really don’t think about roles as a job – they are, in and of themselves, “a journey.” I can’t think of the show today without that crossing my mind.
Life goes on, but we remember the things that “got away.”
In our early NYC days, Jeff and Carlye and I saw each other a lot. But often, it seemed just as I would finish a national tour gig, he’d be heading out on a new one. He’d come back to NYC and I’d be heading out on tour again. Time goes by, life moves us on, but if you’ve lived some life with someone, when you see them next it’s as if time stood still.
Sending best thoughts to my fellow “Orangeman” on his opening night.
As Sondheim wrote:
“Most friends fade
Or they don’t make the grade
New ones are quickly made
And in a pinch, sure, they’ll do
But us old friend what’s to discuss old friend?
Here’s to us,
Who’s like us?