What thrilled me most when I performed The Search on Broadway was the range of humanity that was waiting for me outside the stage door each night—eager to share with me their experience of the play.
In one group, there might be a gorgeous Yuppie couple, groomed and dressed, glamorous and chic, and, with them, three middle-aged friends from the Midwest on their first trip to New York, and next to them, a knot of Goth Punk kids—all talking with each other, turned on, and affirmed by the play. Someone in the company would come backstage every night and say, “Well, there’s over a thousand people out here tonight who normally wouldn’t be caught dead in the same room together.”
When Jane was developing the play out of town, I knew she had created something extraordinary—especially when one of the critics wrote, “At the end, we were on our feet applauding our higher selves.”
I was reading parts of a new draft on the plane, and Trudy said about her space chums, “Frankly, I think they find us quite captivating.” I could intuit that this was the essence of the play, Jane’s embrace of our species, and I was exhilarated.
In January 1985, we spent two weeks at the Festival Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico, our first date on the road before Broadway. People living there came more than once and watched the play developing. In Kate’s monologue about the suicide note, I kept leaving out the line referring to Trudy’s umbrella hat—“And, Lonnie, I did the strangest thing, I took it”—because I didn’t believe Kate would take it. When Jane insisted I put it in the next night, the audience knew before I did that the play was complete: on the line, they leapt to their feet and cheered. The magic of the moment continued to grow and resonate. Many months later, during a curtain call one night, not only did the audience stand up, but every person in the front row was wearing an umbrella hat.