By Anika

Tonight was my last performance of Avenue Q. I love the show — it was the best job I’ve ever had — but I’d done it a year and a half and it was time to move on and make time for other projects. Like Jaradoa stuff!

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of my last show, I just wanted to “go gentle into that good night.” So last week I told our stage manager that I didn’t want a goodbye cake or for everyone to sing “Happy Trails” to me at half hour. But a couple days beforehand, I realized that I did want my last show to somehow be noted by the people in my world. Just then I got an email from my fellow Jaradoan Eileen. I kinda timidly wrote back asking if she’d be willing to wait in line at the box office on my last day to get front row rush tickets, and she said sure!

So tonight Eileen came to the Q and brought along another Jaradoan, Kevin. They sat smack in the front row, which is so close that it almost felt like they were a part of my show. I could always see them peripherally and I was doing the show for them. And they laughed and smiled at everything I did, making me feel so supported and loved.

Tonight was a really sweet night filled with cards, gifts, and well wishes from folks offstage (Sala, who plays Christmas Eve, made me granola! Like from scratch!).  And there were lots of special moments onstage: Maggie, our second hander, made Princeton give Kate a kiss on the head before he spooned her, and I got meaningful, loving looks from fellow cast members like Danielle, who plays Gary Coleman, which means a lot in a show where people don’t ever look me in the eye (they’re supposed to be looking at my puppet).

Now, I’m a weeper, it’s easy to get me to cry, but the thing that helped me keep it together was the sound of Eileen and Kevin’s laughter. Because in a business where you are constantly leaving groups of people you’ve had an intense creative experience with and you have grown to love, it’s hard to find people that are a constant, a foundation. And the good folks of Jaradoa are that for me. I feel so lucky tonight. It’s scary to start a new phase of life, but I have the luxury of knowing that my extended Jaradoa family — and not just Members, but also Allies and all the other people who come alongside us — will remain in my life.

Thanks, guys.