That X Factor - Debbie Reynolds and everyone like her...

In the late 80's, I was in a youth summer stock touring company. As we were traveling around Arizona and southern California with our show, we would get to attend lots of theater along the way. Debbie Reynolds was playing in a touring revival of The Unsinkable Molly Brown down in LA (at the Shubert? The Kodak?). This was a reprisal of her role 25 years after she was an Oscar nominee for her movie role, but I had no idea. Thanks to this experience, I always think of Molly as an older woman, not the young woman she would have been in her 1964 movie role...and that is only one of the remarkable memories I carry away from it...

During one scene aboard the Titanic, Molly is talking about her gigantic wedding ring. She strode out on the stage, and mid-sentence she stayed in character yet broke the 4th wall when she said, "...and I left my ring backstage..." She strode back off stage to get the prop and returned to the scene, the audience applauding and howling at this "raw moment".

I remember we would debrief our theater experiences, and in discussing our night out at this show, our director told we young, impressionable child actors that while that scene was funny and memorable, "she could get away with it because she is DEBBIE REYNOLDS."

I never forgot that lesson. There are some people who by virtue of talent or fame or a combination of  both (because lord knows these days they are not tied together in any way) somehow manage to win us over no matter what they do. They have that "X-Factor" which makes them magnetic to us mere mortals, and we forgive them everything and enjoy those brief moments of familiarity when they make mistakes. "HEY! They're human!" and that realization doesn't knock them down, but instead raises them up somehow.

I aspire to that in my life. Yet I know talent can't buy that entirely. Experience breeds grace in some cases, but that isn't always the way. For most, it is something within you--your soul, your spirit, your je ne sais quoi-- which wins over all. Debbie had it. And I see many performers in my world, both big time and "small time" who have this quality. It's easy to be jealous of them. But even easier to just be in awe of them and enjoy what they have to offer.

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On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

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