The first rule of show business

My father always told me that the first rule of show business is to keep smiling.

More generally, this could be stated as stay in character, but keep smiling joyfully mocks the stereotypical stage mom who can be spotted yelling, “Sing out, Louise!” from the wings.

Keep smiling.

I like to think of this as a dramatic restating of the “the show must go on.” Because what does it really mean that the show must go on? It doesn’t just mean the show needs to start regardless of difficulty – it needs to continue regardless of difficulty.

The show must go on. Stay in character. Never break.

Keep smiling.

My father had stories of actors who improvised in iambic pentameter or who effortlessly recovered from defective – or fiendishly altered – props.

The pros don’t miss a beat.

The wonder of live theater is that you never know what’s going to happen. Every run is a little different. Every moment something could go wrong. And it’s pretty much a fact of theater that inevitably something will go wrong.

But it doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, whatever unexpected thing comes your way, the show must go on. Never miss a beat. Never break character.

Just keep going and remember the first rule of show business: keep smiling.

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