Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's okay if you're dressed as Betsy Ross



I was walking through the financial district today, as I often do, when I nearly bumped into a Freedom Trail tour guide, dressed in colonial costume, shepherding a gaggle of tourists towards the Old State House.

I immediately recognized her as a local actress I've often seen and written about.

Just as she recognized me.

And as she did so, all the color drained from her face.

She didn't break character, or even acknowledge me - she hustled those folks off in a hurry - but I do want to say to her (and all her compatriots): your secret is safe with me. Although why should it even be a secret? I don't think any less of you as an artist, or as a person, or as anything, because you have this job. There is nothing wrong with dressing up as Betsy Ross. Either in the privacy of your own home, or on the streets of Boston. And what you're engaged in is education, after all, which is always laudable. I know this time it's a little funny too, for some reason, but it's still laudable.

And don't worry that I'm going to remember this the next time I see you onstage. Because I won't. I'm not going to snort to myself and think, "Ha! She can't play Cleopatra - I've seen her dressed as Betsy Ross!!!" That's not going to happen, because frankly, your name is legion. As I've long worked downtown, I've seen half the Boston theatrical community dressed as either Abigail or John Adams. And I wish I'd seen the other half, too. Especially if they, you know, mixed it up a little. Why not hire Ryan Landry as Betsy Ross? Or cast Karen MacDonald as John Adams? Now that would be an education.