Martha, Again By Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Last December I wrote about the Biblical account of Mary and Martha, sharing that I am a Martha personality (the woman who was frustrated because her sister sat at Jesus’ feet while she prepared the food). This past week I stepped even closer into understanding her aggravation when our friends Jack and Lael came to visit Dave and me here in Florida. Their family friend, Spencer, portraying “Scar” in the touring Broadway production of Disney’s Lion King, was performing 30 minutes away. He was able to get us discounted tickets.

About a week before their visit, Lael called and asked if Spencer could hang out at our house the day before we saw his performance. It had been years since we all attended the same church in Texas, so when he arrived shortly before lunch, I was surprised to see a mature, good-looking young man instead of a much shorter, scrawnier teen I remembered.

While in the kitchen finishing lunch preparations, I could hear some of the conversation in our living room. Dave, Jack and Lael were asking about Spencer’s Broadway connections and experiences. HELLO! I am the theater person. I am the one who would kill (okay, wound) to soak up information from someone who actually had “made it” in New York. Occasionally Lael would saunter into the kitchen to see if I needed help, but a real martyr suffers in silence, so I told her to go back to her friend, that I was fine.

I wasn’t.

I heard words like “audition,” “theatre schedule,” “Scar’s mask,” “choreography,” all reminding me that I was missing out on information that would energize me and give me insight into the field that I loved. I never would have an opportunity like this again. (Actually, I wasn’t even having it this time.)

When enough was enough, I marched into the living room and announced, “I now have renewed empathy for Martha when Mary got to sit at the feet of Jesus and take in all he had to share. Not that Spencer is Jesus, but I want you all to know this is really, really hard.” Everyone—especially Spencer– cracked up.

Over lunch, Spencer patiently answered my dozens of questions. I wanted details. What did he do in his audition that the other 30 did not? What other roles had he played? Which was the most challenging? How long did it take for the makeup artist to create his character and how many costumes did he have? I hung on his every word.

But the best was to come. Spencer invited us backstage following the matinee performance we attended the following day. I almost hyperventilated. First, we met the man who tended to the puppets between shows. With a Masters degree in puppet design, he demonstrated the hand levers that worked Zazu, the bird puppet. Spencer’s head mask was next. Strapped to his finger was a tiny control with buttons that regulated its large movements. Backstage was insane with its organization of the costumes, scenery, props and animal mechanisms. When Lael invited Spencer to grab something to eat with us before his evening show, he said he would love to. (No doubt to answer my remaining questions, I told myself.)

Lion King’s next stop was Miami, only two hours away. I thought about going again, but this time had been up close and personal. Miami would not be.

I knew the difference. So did Martha. Her house guest wasn’t just anyone. It was Jesus who might not return to their home again, and she was missing out on hearing the Good News from the One who knew it best. I understood her pain. I could relate! My time with Spencer taught me a powerful lesson, one I won’t ever forget.

Next time, I will order pizza.

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