The text came to the wife’s phone at 1 o’clock this afternoon. It was from Alison Cimmet, her friend.
I’M ON TONIGHT, it read. Or something along those lines.
“Holy cow,” the wife said. “Alison’s performing.” The wife had received similar texts a couple of times before, but timing is timing and—with two kids and a job—timing is often a bitch. But not now. Not tonight.
Tonight, thanks to some awesome friends (who could babysit), we hit Broadway.
Tonight, we watched Alison Cimmet as a star.
But, first, allow me to back up and explain. In our day-to-day realm, Alison is a wife and mother who lives in our suburban town. Her two sons are close in age to my children, so they’ve grown up playing together. Alison is extremely engaging, extremely warm and—to go basic here—extremely nice. She also happens to be an actress, which I consider to be more than a tad cool. This is her website, and this is the link to her reel. Until tonight, my Alison Cimmet-is-an-actress-I-know highlight came when I was at the gym one day, watching TV while on the treadmill, and I saw her in a commercial for Staples.
Again, until today.
Alison has spent the past few months serving as Beth Leavel‘s understudy on Baby It’s You!, the hit Broadway musical about the Shirelles and, specifically, the plight of Florence Greenberg, their Jewish homemaker manager. Well, Leavel has had to miss a couple of performances, giving Alison a shot to play the lead. Tonight was one of those nights.
In a word: Awesome. Dynamic. Amazing. Breathtaking. I’m not quite sure how to explain this properly, but I’m gonna try. To see someone you know—someone who hangs in your kitchen; someone who wipes the snot bubbles from her kids’ noses; someone who is, in a sense, just the woman next door—standing before hundreds of people, on the center of a stage, all eyes focussed on her, well … it’s magical. And inspiring. And, inexplicably, life-affirming. Alison is much closer with my wife than with me, but the pride I felt—just in knowing her—was immense. It was sort of like attending a good friend’s wedding, then multiplying that by 1,000. This was a person, before our eyes, living her life dream. Literally, living it out. As the wife noted afterward, a wedding is great, but is it actually an accomplishment? “This,” she said, “was a real accomplishment.”
When the show ended, Alison exited the stage door to the Broadhurst Theatre and was surrounded by autograph seekers—again, cool to see. She gave us a backstage tour, introduced us to a couple of her co-stars, smiled as bright a smile as I’ve probably ever seen.
Before we left, the wife asked Alison to sign a Playbill for our daughter, Casey.
This is what she wrote:
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.