“You know something’s wrong when Steel is the most subtle person on that stage,” Lucky said, turning to face me during intermission.
I’ll be honest, for a second I was tempted to push her belongings over the edge of the balcony. Or maybe her body. You know, for revenge. Don’t disparage my boy. Especially not to my face.
Except, I have no point of comparison, so I can’t even get that mad. I don’t actually remember seeing Steel play Berger this past fall. I know it happened. I remember the performance well, actually. It was September 15th 2009 and it was my first time seeing Gavin Creel on any stage, anywhere, ever. As anyone who has witnessed him can understand, seeing Gavin on stage for the first time that night basically obliterated every other possible memory. His awesomeness was, well, that awesome. He’s all I remember. And personally, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable defense for not having any memory of Steel from that performance.
My secondary defense? My well-documented crush on The Dirty Jerz (read: Steel) dates back to Gavin’s Symphony Space concert on December 7th 2009. That night, at Gavin’s gig, The Jerz’s mere appearance almost knocked me out of my seat. Before then? I confess my attention was elsewhere on the stage at the Hirschfeld. But since then, I assure you, I have not missed a move Steel has made.
Which is obviously why, when I saw this @HairTribe tweet last week I all but dropped everything to get my ass down to the Hirschfeld. (I mean, I couldn’t drop everything. Wednesday was Paddy’s Day, after all, and any girl called The Mick clearly has plans to drink that night. And Irish Pub owning friends who would disown her if she tried to bail.)
Seeing Steel play Berger this time was amazing. Suddenly I didn’t have to feel guilty about watching his every move—he was a principal actor, now. And let me just tell you, Lucky wasn’t lying, Steel was giving the most subtle, layered performance in that entire show. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say Steel Burkhardt was the best thing on that stage last Thursday night. I know, I know. I’m clearly biased. But I don’t think my crush renders my opinion moot. Diana DeGarmo and Kyle Riabko should be going to Over-Actors Anonymous meetings daily at this point. Their performances were that over-baked. I’ll leave the details to Lucky—who is working on a piece memorably entitled “I Am On Stage at the Hirschfeld and I’m Acting My Face Off” (or something like that)—but it was bad. Bad.
To be fair, outside the main principal actors who were not Steel Burkhardt, the rest of the cast was actually great, the tribe especially. Their energy was high, they were excited to be there, they had the vibe right. It’s obvious the Starshine Tribe doesn’t have the strong internal relationships and deeply bonded trust that the Aquarius Tribe had—they were clearly shocked when Steel just blindly THREW himself at them for the lift in “Going Down”—but I think that’s just a matter of time. Remember, by their final Broadway matinee on March 7th, 2010, the Aquarius Tribe had been more-or-less intact for over two years. These Starshine kids were thrown together only a few weeks ago. They’re new, they have a lot to learn! I think time is going to strengthen what they have. And if we’re all very lucky, time will also help Kyle and Diana to chill out and stop trying to Commit an Act of Theater every time they set foot center stage.
Traumatizing Acts of Theater aside, I thoroughly enjoyed myself that night. I don’t think I’m prepared to see Hair with the full Starshine Tribe just yet. I think without The Dirty Jerz to distract me, weaknesses would be much, much clearer (as they were to Lucky that night). But I was beyond thrilled to finally see Steel play Berger, and you know, actually see him. Commit his performance to memory. He was wonderful. (I especially appreciated the Jersey accent he kept throwing in any time he had to do a funny voice.) Plus, I mean, we all know I find The Jerz so attractive it’s almost uncomfortable to look at him—like looking at the sun, it burns a little—so, in the days before he jetted off to London, I was happy to have one last chance to cause myself a little pain.