When I was ten years old I booked my first show at a regional theatre. I auditioned with “everything’s coming up roses” from the Bette Midler Gypsy vocal selections (with a color xerox of the cover stapled THREE TIMES along the left hand side).
The show was Funny Girl and Stephanie J. Block was our Fanny.
I didn’t know what this meant yet, but I was about to. I remember the first day of rehearsal learning the song “Henry Street” and being so confused because it wasn’t in the movie. We must have ran the scene cold because that night ended with Stephanie singing “People.” Just thinking back on it gives me chills. I had never been so close to anything that good in my life.
Now, the children in Funny Girl are not terribly busy and as a result are needed very little during rehearsal. Well, that simply wouldn’t do. I would tell Brenda, the woman tasked with child wrangling (and also ASM-ing?), that my mom was heavily involved with the PTA at my school and that she often had late meetings but that I didn’t mind watching. The truth is, I wanted to watch her. I wanted to learn how to do what she did on that first day of rehearsal. Somehow that fib was never exposed.
Needless to say I kept my eye on her and witnessed the rest of the world get on my level of Block enthusiasm. When I got to New York it didn’t take long for me to bump into her. It was flattering to be remembered.
I picked this photo of Stephanie by Stephanie Diani because I imagine she laughed when she saw it – and if you’ve ever heard Stephanie really laugh, you know it’s an infectious one.
and so concludes this open love letter to the woman who showed me how to be a professional – onstage and off.