FIVE SHOWS BOBBY GRUNIN ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT WISH HE HAD WRITTEN
NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
Everyone around him is standing up, shuffling out, but Bobby remains in his seat.
THE MAD ONES, AKA THE UNAUTHORIZED AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SAMANTHA BROWN
It doesn't matter that Kait and Brian have never had a show go up because there's no stopping that stupid fucking song. It's the song everyone thinks of when they think of new musical theatre, the song they sing everywhere from showcase recitals to woefully ill-fitting auditions. It's the song that first leads them down the YouTube rabbit hole, from having recently discovered Next to Normal or Newsies and seeing what else the dreamy leads have been up to. And it's not that dreamy leads don't sing their songs, but. Well. "Along the Way" is no "Run Away With Me". Nothing else is "Run Away With Me".
"Stupid fucking title," Bobby's grumbling under his breath as he shuffles into 59E59. "What does it even mean?"
"It’s from Kerouac."
"I know it’s from fucking Kerouac. You don’t need to explain fucking Kerouac to me. I was also once a suburban teenager with a car."
"Ooh, the suburbs," Jamie teases. "How exotic. Tell me more."
Any other night, he'd be grinning back. Jamie's a little bit magic like that. But Bobby's still frowning at his program. "Unauthorized Autobiography was at least a little clever. What, are they hoping to ride the hype of The Bad Years? Because that was so well-received?"
"You're right." Somehow these words coming from Jamie are the last he wants to hear. "So what are you so upset about?"
Bobby is quiet. He knows he has no reason to be upset. He knows he has three fourths of an EGOT chilling on a shelf at home. He knows everyone is singing "Waving Through a Motherfucking Window" everywhere from showcase recitals to woefully ill-fitting auditions. It's not that he feels threatened. Not really.
It's just that goddamn it, he'd really love to sing this fucking song.
THE BLACK SUITS
Given how very many times The Black Suits plays around the country, it's almost a miracle that Bobby never manages to see it. He still has a day job during SPF, between Dogfight and A Christmas Story while it's at Barrington, stuck in the city reevaluating his entire life and choices with his brand new agent when it's in Los Angeles. He's heard the songs, of course. Everyone has heard the songs. Everyone has heard the same people sing the songs. It's been years.
"I think it's sweet."
"That's one word for it."
They're crammed into a booth littered with tinsel. It's as much a Christmas tradition for Bobby and Jamie as it is for Joe and literally everyone he's ever met: last night of the run, last show of the night, crash the party after. Patrons on every side of them are scanning the cast list, which grows longer every year because Joe never wants to not invite a past member but has to find replacements for the ones now in shows. It's pointless at this point, honestly; half the people listed aren't even at this one. Bobby fights the urge to start handing out fliers for A Christmas Story instead. 'If you like Christmas shows and the new musical theatre sound...'
"What's wrong with a little loyalty? In this industry, of all - "
"I'm not saying there's anything wrong with loyalty." Bobby fights the urge to snap. 'If you're trying to imply that I'm a selfish jackass who'll ditch anyone he thinks might hold him back...' "I'm saying who turns down a shot at Broadway just because you're not guaranteed that your ten best friends are gonna be in the cast? Like, get yourself to Broadway and then have the clout to make that happen next time, you know?"
Jamie just shrugs. Bobby hates when Jamie shrugs. Bobby hates that he's currently racking his brain for every cast member they've ever had, every singer at a cabaret, how many have they invited back or kept in touch with or written entire shows for, no matter how ridiculous or bad, and how many would show up at a club at 11:30 pm on a two-show day to belt a Christmas carol just because they loved them that much? When they're Jewish?
"I'm also saying sixty people is too goddamn many to pack into the kitchen here for a ninety minute Christmas pageant," he mutters instead.
Thankfully, Jamie laughs that time. "I'm not saying that's wrong, either."
"It's just - wow." Jamie is breathless and pink as they race down Lafayette. It's not just the cold.
"I mean, no one writes lyrics like he does, you know?"
"How does he do that? How does he fit so many words into a line and have it sound so uncluttered, so elegant, it just flows like - right?"
"Like I don't have the words to talk about the words."
Bobby has some words that he's not going to say out loud. Instead, he silently resolves to hate Lin-Manuel Miranda forever.
But he doesn't protest when Jamie buys them tickets for the first Broadway preview.
ANYTHING MICHAEL FRIEDMAN EVER TOUCHED
"You know people are literally saying what a shame it is he's gone when people like us are still alive."
Jamie looks at him with only mild exasperation, with that constant side of fondness that still surprises him. "You really want to make this about you right now?"
"Not me," Bobby replies stubbornly, "us," but he knows Jamie well enough to know that he knows that's a lie. Jamie is his best friend, his partner, his favorite person in the world besides himself. But of course, his favorite person is still himself. Even when together, it's all about him.
"Don't be dragging me into this, I loved Michael."
"I'm not saying I didn't love Michael." And he didn't not. Bobby liked Michael a lot, actually. He was smart and funny and freakishly passionate. It was hard not to get carried away by his enthusiasm, even if you had no idea what he was talking about, which Bobby often didn't whether because everything he loved was too obscure or he was just talking too damn fast. He was talented. He wrote some weird shit. It was great and clever and Bobby's tired of the implication that your shit has to be weird to be great and clever, that's all.
But he can't say any of this. Jamie is saying, still so very evenly, "We all loved Michael. We're all sad about this. We're going to pay our respects and support our friends, and then we're going to come back here and sort out our own shit on our own time. Deal?"
This is probably code for "and never talk about this again because you're doing that thing again and it's stressing me out," but Bobby just nods and takes the black tie Jamie's holding out to him. "Deal."