I grew up dreaming, praying to be Kim in Miss Saigon. I practiced in my bedroom using a flashlight for a handgun.
My first Saigon was in Salt Lake City. I had just turned 22, just graduated college, just gotten my Equity card and somehow found myself sweating onto my libretto, singing with Kevin Gray.
The Kevin Gray on my ipod. The Kevin Gray I listened to holding onto the flashlight gun in my bedroom.I wondered if I could be fired.Kevin was walking around singing, marking through his blocking. I just wanted to watch him work. I felt like someone just told me I was needed in the next room to perform the Heimlich maneuver.We started singing through Tam’s entrance. I was probably barely phonating when Kevin dropped to his knees and shuffled over pretending to be Tam, a wide eyed over-acting goateed Tam.
I finally exhaled- the first time in 15 minutes. And I laughed while he head butted me and held on to my leg while I tried to shake him off.That was the first time I received Kevin’s tremendous generosity and grace. He spent the better part of many days after rehearsal talking to me, telling me stores about his career and his life, talking about books, patiently listening and calming me as I rambled on about my fears about the future and the past, feeding me hummus and carrots and chips and salsa, sitting on and armchair still wearing his blue windbreaker pants from rehearsal. He told me I was enough, good enough, person enough, even though I was scared of life and just barely finding my footing. He never made me feel callow or redundant, or ridiculous, but I never felt coddled either.
I always felt like he was telling me the truth, no matter how good or bad. I was scared because I didn’t believe my good fortune, and I know in a moment it would be gone. I was scared I was going to let everyone down and be over before I began. I was scared Kevin thought I was a joke. With every hour we spent together he made me believe in myself, that I could grow, that I was strong enough and smart enough, that I was an adult now and that it was nothing to be afraid of.Past our first Saigon together, past the second, I always felt like I could talk to him, write to him, and he would never judge me or patronize me; just patiently answer my questions, …some profound truths, crack me up with some stupid jokes, tell me to keep going , and tell me to keep in touch.I considered him my “father in the business”. He helped me through the beginning of my adult life. He was there for me at my most lost.
When I was without an apartment, my relationship in shambles, my career stalled, my family unrelenting; when I felt my most worthless he wrote to me “the prize you are waiting for is you, my dear, You..?he spoke of you with a glow in his eyes that made me hopeful and happy. He seemed complete because he had you. Your relationship was a testament to balance, trust, generosity, It makes me believe that being an actor doesn’t mean being alone, or being crazy, or both.I will never be the same because I knew him. I am better for having had him in my life. I’m sure you’re receiving such an outpouring of sentiments like this.They are all true.
He was the essence of wisdom and talent an generosity. I am thinking o you and him. I will always think of you and him. I am full to the brim with gratitude for having him in my life and sending the entirety of my love to you.