A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Matthew Rauch, who plays Israel Peterman in Junk. He told me that his favorite show of the week is the Saturday matinee. He explained: “I find it a treat because I don’t have 12 hours to think about my performance that day. I get up, have coffee, go to the gym, and step into the show.”
I couldn’t help but wonder: what is the preferred performance of the other actors in the cast? Nine of them replied to this query, with a variety of responses.
Ted Koch, who plays Mark O’Hare and Counsel, selected Tuesday. “There’s an excitement in the air after the day off. People are re-energized and there is a special kind of focus and concentration.”
The Wednesday matinee received two votes. Caroline Hewitt, who plays Charlene Stewart, said, “On Tuesday night, we shake off the cobwebs from the day off, and Wednesday morning I feel energized, excited -- like I’m hearing the play for the first time. A delightful surprise has been that Junk’s Wednesday matinee audiences have consistently been some of our liveliest and most vocal.” Ito Aghayere, who plays Jacqueline Blount, agreed about the specialness of the Wednesday matinee audiences. “They’ve interrupted their regular weekday to see a story unfold at a time when most of the world is working. I call them the purists. They haven’t been sated with their steak dinners and Cabernets. They aren’t coming to us for the cherry on top of their sundae.”
Matthew Saldivar, who plays Raul Rivera, preferred the Thursday evening show. “It’s the performance most separated from the rest of the week. I also find Thursday night audiences on Broadway to be consistently good, as if it is the main event of the day.” For his part, Nathan Miller, who plays Devon Atkins and Waiter, put in a word for the Friday-night crowd. “You can feel the audience’s energy shift into weekend mode. They’re really listening and happy to be at the theater.”
With three votes, Saturday night was the winner. Ethan Phillips, who plays Murray Lefkowitz and a Lawyer, explained: “The phrase ‘It’s Saturday night on Broadway!’ has been shouted many times by cast members in every Broadway show I’ve done (and this is my fourth). It carries with it so much excitement and privilege. It says to an actor: ‘You have arrived.’” Tony Carlin, who plays three roles, concurred. “’Saturday night on Broadway’ brings back the tradition of the theater and reminds you of all the other Saturday nights going back across the decades.” Charlie Semine, who plays Giuseppe Addesso, added that Saturday night is “usually a good crowd. There’s something about having been in the theater for the whole day that makes me focus completely on the task at hand.”
You’ll notice that no one mentioned Sunday, so allow me the honor. That afternoon’s performance is a mini-milestone: a reminder that another week has elapsed, a week of both ups and downs but a week of accomplishment nonetheless. My viewpoint is that of a spectator, however. For the participant, Sunday is the end of the marathon, leaving the actor grateful but spent. Monday – and its day-off duties of laundry, bill-paying, and general errands – awaits.
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com.