You don’t have to be a star, baby, to be in my show. – Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.
A couple of years ago my lovely wife and I were in New York and went to see Blithe Spirit on Broadway. We had only one reason to go, the best in fact: Angela Lansbury. She’s always been a fave of ours, and the chance to see her onstage (in, it turned out, her Tony Award winning role) was too much to pass up.
Sweetening the pot was that the male lead was Rupert Everett in his Broadway debut. It would be two “names” in a revival of a famous play.
When the curtain was about to go up an announcer told us that Mr. Everett would not be going on that night. His understudy would play the part. There were a few sighs of disappointment. Cindy and I comforted ourselves with the knowledge that the divine Angela, at least, was still a go.
And she was stupendous. The production was a hoot.
And that understudy for Everett? He was brilliant.
So good that I looked him up on IMDB after the show. His name is Mark Capri.
Now, I was an actor for a time on the boards of the Big Apple, and appreciate a fine theatrical turn. Especially from a guy who the audience was initially disappointed to see (he won them over, however, and got huge applause at the end). So I wrote Mr. Capri a note to thank him for his performance.
I bring this up for writers because it illustrates a point. Mark Capri no doubt went into acting, as all Thespians do, hoping to become a star. He did what actors are supposed to do. He got training (at no less than the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London). He was accepted into the Royal Shakespeare Company and began his theatrical apprenticeship.
Over the years he’s played many roles in theatre (in a serendipitous touch, he made his New York debut with the same theatre company where I made mine, The Roundabout) and guest roles on TV.
In other words, he is a professional in every sense of the term. And when he was needed for that performance in Blithe Spirit, he came through as a consummate pro should.
We are, as we all know, in the midst of the self-publishing revolution. More and more indie authors are making good money, not because they are “stars,” but because they are professionals. The ones who think just tossing up mediocre material into the digi-system is going to make them rich are fooling themselves. I posted a brief clip about this on YouTube.
The ones who will make it will follow the same path as Mark Capri. They will train, they will get some good direction, they will write, they will keep writing. A miniscule number of them may even gain “star status,” whatever that’s going to look like in the future.
But I suspect the era of the superstar writer is coming to an end. The era of the solid professional is upon us. Those who learn how to do it all well (and I’m doing my part to help) will increasingly be able to realize the dream of doing something they love and making a living at it.
They will find their audience and please them with good performances, just like the one Mr. Capri delivered that warm July evening on Broadway.