John Carroll Takes a Bow



When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher would mark the end of every test by bellowing out, “Time waits for no one and neither does Mrs. Daruba!” Well, Mrs. Daruba was right again. As much as I would have loved to dress in the equivalent of a black leather slingshot and dance around on a boat overflowing with horny sailors, neither Cher nor I could turn back time. January 22, the closing date of Follies, had finally arrived.

I woke up that morning thinking things would feel different. It was going to be the last day we did this production, with this cast, in this Broadway theater. It was the end of a whirlwind, magical era.

When I walked through the stage door for the last time I thought, Take it all in. Every second. I was trying to force myself to feel something. To feel nostalgic, to feel sad or emotional. Yet that morning, I felt like Diana Morales in A Chorus Line. I felt nothing. (That’s not entirely true. I did feel a little gassy.)

At the top of the show, when I was waiting in line with the other cast members for my entrance, I looked around to get a sense of things. Sure, some people were sad and even a little emotional but, for a lot of us, it seemed like a normal Sunday. Elaine Paige said she was fine. Jan Maxwell was behind me wishing everyone a good show and being her usual witty self. I figured, maybe you get to a certain point where it is just another closing of another show. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Business as usual. That is, until we heard the audience.

It was like a rock concert. Every time someone walked through the door and onto the stage, the audience went crazy. When it came time for Elaine and me to enter, I grabbed her hand and off we went. The crowd went wild. Normally, as we walk downstage toward the audience, I talk to her and keep my focus on her. But for some reason I looked out over the crowd and took it all in. Actually, I know very well what the reason was ... for the audience to see me!

It was unbelievable. To hear that kind of response and feel that kind of energy is literally breathtaking. However, it wasn’t until Elaine turned to look at me and I saw those huge tears in her eyes that it hit me like a ton of bricks. Finally, I felt something!

I looked around and noticed the majority of people on stage were teary-eyed, myself included. I started thinking of all the things I was going to miss. I’ll miss Elaine telling a joke every night onstage to get everyone in a good mood. I’ll miss Elaine’s character Carlotta introducing me to the other party guests and my saying, “My name is Peter. Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” while gesturing toward Elaine and saying, “Have you met my date ‘Pumpkin’?”