I haven't performed the show for nearly 4 months now so while the story still feels like it happened to me yesterday, the intricacies of how I normally tell it have faded dangerously far from my memory. There's no script as such - I've never written anything down on paper for any of the shows - so it's a process of looking through the powerpoint presentation and listening to a recording that helps to lodge it back in my head.
With that in mind I'm delighted with the way the first night went in Napa. I was a beat or two off on things on a few occasions - I was probably having to concentrate too much on knowing it to be fully in the moment for performing it - but all in all it was a good solid start.
When I performed the show in New York it took a few shows to find its feet and for me to get the tone right. When it started to go really well there, there were people who'd say, "Of course it goes well here, we're New Yorkers, we're smart..."
When I then took the show to LA I had a few people say, "You won't find it as easy in LA. They won't concentrate as well and follow a story... they're not as much a theatre crowd as New York" which proved to be nonsense. If anything the LA audience were by and large more effusive than the average NYC crowd.
Before the show opened in Napa I had a few people offering words of advice along the lines of, "You'll have to remember that this is a small town. This isn't New York or LA... the crowds here are more conservative and you might find it harder to get them to go with you" and again it seems to me to be nonsense.
I only have the evidence of one show so far so I won't be complacent and I'm sure in a tour of this scale I'll have a few hard nights along the way, but the idea that people here just aren't as equipped as others to get something seems a bit patronising. It's also a dangerous idea to plant in a performer's mind.
If I take to the stage in Napa thinking that I have to dumb the show down, sanitise it or change it in anyway to account for some mythical small town sensibility then I won't end up giving the best performance. I'm convinced that these things can become self-fulfilling prophecies.