The title of Joseph Heller’s bestselling 1961 book, “Catch 22,” has entered the American lexicon as a synonym for a no-win situation — damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
So what is “Catch 23”?
Cameron-Mitchell Ware answers that question with his one-man show this weekend at Mid-City Theatre.
“As the title of my show would suggest, I am 23 years old. I would hope people will get it once I tell them how old I am,” Ware said.
However, the show’s premise is more complicated than that.
“ ‘Catch 23’ is literally not so much the step after 22, but it’s a representation of me sharing with people the experiences that I’ve had in my 23 years of living. Experiences that have allowed me to understand things about life that a lot of recent theater productions don’t discuss. It’s really glamorous for people to see Broadway a certain way, but there are a lot of misconceptions of what it means to be a Broadway actor.”
Over the years, the mythical path to success on the Great White Way has entailed moving to New York; working hard, honing your craft in small, off-off-Broadway theaters; and waiting tables to pay rent while waiting for that big break that finally lands you in a Broadway show.
However, to Ware, “That is an outmoded idea. It’s out of fashion and an outdated perception of what actually happens to young artists.
“My experiences as a musical theater actor, at 23, right after college, were so full of unexpected complications that no one and no (college) course ever really talked about,” Ware said.
One of his jobs in New York City involved telemarketing for Carnegie Hall, trying to sell season subscriptions “for hours and hours on end” to often-grumpy recipients on the other end of the line.
“Ultimately, you end up spending more time at your day job than you do on your art and your work, which is what you’re out there in the first place for. So it becomes one of those Catch 22s,” Ware said. “If you don’t have time to audition and to actually do the art, then what are you really doing there but trying to survive?”
Sometimes newbies find that cabarets expect to be paid for the privilege of staging their work. They end up paying for show promotion in order to get audiences into the house, because failing to meet monetary goals may result in the performer coming out of pocket to make up the difference.
As described in the program notes, the show promises that “Audiences will get a glimpse into the life of a young artist in the middle of his journey. ... ‘Catch 23’ is about the realities of following a dream that requires constant inspiration.”
Ware sings more than a dozen popular show tunes, including “My Own Best Friend” (“Chicago”), “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” (“My Fair Lady”), “People” (“Hello Dolly!”), “God Bless the Child” and “Accentuate the Positive.”
Pianist Jefferson Turner accompanies Ware.
The show also will include video projections of photographs by Lori Kramer. Zac Manuel is the videographer and Mid-City Theatre’s general manager, Su Gonczy, handles lighting and sound chores.
A 2008 Jesuit High School graduate, Ware studied acting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he received a BFA in musical theater.
From there, it was on to New York, where he appeared at Midtown Manhattan’s Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret and Off-Broadway in “Deployed: A New Musical.”
Locally, he has acted in several shows, including, “Violet: The Musical” (as Flick) and in the title role of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Ware also teaches acting to kids at the Contemporary Arts Center and the International School of Louisiana in Algiers Point.