Star struck you say? I never thought I was one of those people. At least not until my sister bought me a ticket for a local production of The Cherry Orchard, in which one of my favorite actors was playing. It was terribly exciting to see Nick Mancuso in person, right in front of me, this actor I had
drooled over watched on TV so often. As a surprise, my sister had arranged for us to go backstage and meet the actor in person. Thank goodness I had dressed up at least a little for the play, even though it was the early matinee. Mr. Mancuso was unpretentious, friendly, and very gracious. After shaking our hands, he invited us back to the empty dressing room. While he was taking off some makeup, he asked me a question which seemed to open the babble gates of my mind. I stumbled around mentioning Stingray and Ticket to Heaven, the only two items of his vast portfolio of projects I could remember. At the time I knew of only a few others and was completely ignorant of his life story; how as a boy he had come to Toronto from Italy, spoke five or six languages, had made films in three of them, and was an accomplished artist as well as actor. A renaissance man if ever there was one.
With all that, what intrigued me most about that surreal few minutes with the man was the fact that when he autographed our playbills, he had to lean very close to the page to see it. Anyone with eyesight problems has my immediate allegiance. (See my blog about the Lazy Eye). I just wanted to hug him.
I regret three things about that day: one was my inability to rub two coherent thoughts together. Definitely not what I was going for. I hoped he might be knocked out of his socks by my scintillating conversation, my poise and grace, not put off by my gawking stare and one word answers. The second thing I regret is that I knew so little about him. (The fact is the Internet was a mere infant way back then, so it took more than a few clicks on the mouse to gain information.) My third regret is that we didn’t invite out him for coffee. (I know, I know, you’re asking why ever would I think he’d have gone?) The fact is that after my sister and I left the dressing room, thinking we had overstayed our welcome, and sure he must have dozens more fans to greet, we watched him walk away, alone, out of the theatre.
It seems that my opportunity to meet one of my favorite actors arrived before I was prepared for it. What a shame. It goes to show that the old Boy Scout motto, be prepared, should be everyone’s watchword for life.
And just so you know, if the same opportunity comes my way again, I won’t hesitate to say, “Mr. Mancuso, can I treat you to a cup of your favorite coffee?”