I spent the second day of my weekend in LA with my family doing tourist stuff, but then it was time for an evening with Stephen and Mary Beth! The event was a performance and fundraiser for a nonprofit group called One World Stage & Screen, which provides classes, coaching, and mentorship for young actors.
Mama P and I got there just in time to go into the theater. The performance was a short two-actor play called Annapurna, by Sharr White. I wasn’t familiar with it, but I did some googling and found that it has been performed all over, including a run in LA starring Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman.
Thanks Liz for the photo!
It was a “dramatic reading” rather than a staged play, meaning Stephen and Mary Beth had their scripts throughout, and there were no props. Here is the plot: Emma (Mary Beth) comes to visit her poet ex-husband Ulysses (Stephen). She finds him living in poverty and squalor and dying of emphysema. Over the course of the play, we learn that Emma left Ulysses 20 years before, suddenly, in the middle of the night, taking their 5 year old son with her. She has just now left her second husband, a “nice” guy who has just beat her up, partly because she couldn’t get over Ulysses. We learn that Ulysses was a heavy drinker all through their marriage and afterwards (but has now given it up). The son, now 25, has just discovered that Ulysses was writing to him over the 20 years and plans to come see him. That’s why Emma is here. She also heard that he was dying, and wants to “see him out,” as she says. By the end of the play, we hear what drove her away that night 20 years ago, and we see that their bond has not broken in spite of it all.
The play was a good choice for Stephen and Mary Beth. Ulysses is dying, bitter, concealing old hurts, but still has a raffish charm. Emma is bitter too, blaming him for the past, and yet still drawn to him in spite of herself. I enjoyed the play on its own merits, and it was thrilling to see Stephen and Mary Beth live, working their magic, playing off of one another. However, my mind also drifted several times to Steve and Kayla, since there were some interesting parallels. First, since I feel that Kayla’s point of view gets short shrift these days, it was nice to see both of these characters able to express their hurt and bitterness. When Emma talked about being married to her “nice” second husband and how there were always three in the bed, made me think of Kayla’s marriage to Jack, and the way he snapped too. All in all, it was a Steve and Kayla story if Steve were a little less redeemable and Kayla a little more bitter.
It also made me think of how Steve and Kayla might have turned out if Steve had succeeded in pushing her away permanently, and they met again 20 years later. How would their lives have turned out? Would Kayla marry and have a (long-term) loveless marriage, and Steve slide into despair and self-destruction? I found that very intriguing to imagine as I watched this story unfold.
After the play, there was a reception. On the way there I saw Kate Mansi, on her way out. Later I also saw Christopher Sean. There were rumors that James Lastovic was going to be there, but I never saw him. At the reception we chatted with friends, including Erica and Lysie from Daytime Royalty, who pumped me for information on Greg’s event the day before. Then Erica discreetly pointed out that Matt Ashford was standing right behind me, talking to Mary Beth’s family. Like all actors, Matt looks super skinny in person, and he was wearing a suit jacket and pants with a t-shirt, and had a bulky fanny pack around his waist. It was a … unique look.
I was super excited to be so close to Matt, but I didn’t want to be an annoying intrusive fan and interrupt his conversation. Mama P had no such compunction, and she went over and grabbed him and said she wanted a picture of him with her daughter. (Thanks, Mama P!) Matt said, “Oh, why don’t we step over here?” and before I knew it I was on the red carpet with Matt and ten or more people were taking our picture.
Matt, trying to make small talk, asked me how I enjoyed the performance and I stammered something and said, “I’m sorry, I’m a little starstruck.” He laughed and put his arm around me and my mom took this picture. What a sweetheart!
Afterwards I jumping up and down with excitement and everyone was teasing me about it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to or take a picture with Stephen and Mary Beth at the event (you could pay extra for a photo, and we didn’t spring for it). But I do have to say one of my most thrilling moments was right after I stepped away from Matt. Stephen spotted him and came up to give Matt a big hug. Seeing the Johnson brothers hugging might have been the highlight of the whole trip. I only wish I had been quick enough to take a picture.
The next day we were on the plane home. How soon til the next Day of Days??
EDIT: Jess, who was taking pictures for DR, just tweeted a few more pictures of Matt and Mama P and me. How did I not notice that Matt is wearing a James Joyce Ulysses shirt? Did he do that in honor of Stephen’s character? And just the fact that he owns a t-shirt for a classic novel seems so … Jack. Awesome.