Everyone seems to be practicing mindfulness these days.
They’re trying to live in the moment — taking time to pay attention to, and be grateful for, the everyday things that can enhance our lives if we let them.
One of my perpetual, unofficial New Year’s resolutions is to practice mindfulness in my consumption of entertainment.
I strive to benefit from the little things others might not notice — and, in the process, squeeze every bit of pleasure possible from a performance or event.
I thought of this concept recently at the end of intermission during two local productions of classic stage musicals. That’s the time when the orchestra might play an entr’acte — a sort of second overture that sets the mood for the show’s final act.
That bit of music was put there by the show’s composer for a reason. It often reprises themes from songs heard during the first act, and gives the audience a taste of what’s to come in the second. Entr’actes take me back to my childhood, when I loved listening to that instrumental first track on the B side of a vinyl Broadway cast album.
Obviously, many audience members aren’t as sentimental.
During both local productions I saw, the audience used the entr’acte as a last chance to chat with their neighbors, open their candy or check their cellphones. I found that annoying, because I was trying to be mindful, live in the moment and enjoy those orchestras’ efforts without distraction.
I strive to practice mindfulness at the end of movies, as well. Often, a lovely section of the film’s score is still playing over the closing credits. You’d never know it, though, because many audience members have either bolted from their seats to head for the exits or are loudly discussing the movie with their friends or spouses.
I get that. I love to talk about a film I’ve just watched as much as the next guy.
But a composer, no doubt, worked very hard on that score. That final piece of music is designed to enhance the mood you’re in as you break from the fictional world of the film and make the transition back to real life in the lobby and the parking lot.
That score might even be nominated for an Academy Award. Sometimes, best song Oscar nominees are played over a movie’s closing credits. Moments of mindfulness let you experience them.
In addition, you never know when something hilarious will unexpectedly crop up in the film’s credit crawl, or a surprise will light up the screen just when you think the film has ended.
Remember the 2005 musical version of “The Producers”? Mel Brooks and company added a short, but elaborate, production number, titled “Get Out,” after the credits had rolled. If you hung around to be mindful during the credits, you got to see it.
Those closing credits themselves can be an extra little source of information or entertainment, if only you’re mindful.
I often hear people in the theater wondering aloud: “Where was this filmed?” or “Who sang that song?” Well, if you’d live in the moment and stay in your seats for a few extras minutes, people, you’d probably find out at the very end of the credit crawl.
There are plenty of web pages dedicated to the funny messages filmmakers sometimes put in the end credits — from recipes to definitions of those mysterious movie-set jobs such as “grip” or “gaffer.”
A hilarious recent example is a disclaimer at the end of the 2013 animated film “Frozen,” stating that mountain man character Kristoff’s opinion that that all men eat their own boogers is solely his own — not that of the Walt Disney Co.
The next time you’re visiting a big city with lots of public transportation or tourist sites, you can be grateful for extra little moments of entertainment, wherever you may find them, if you stay mindful.
Sometimes, even if I’m rushing to get to a museum while visiting New York City, I’ll purposely miss a subway train and take a later one in order to listen to a great steel-drum or one-man band performing in the station.
A school choir giving a free, impromptu concert in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.?
An extra minute of a song I love, playing on my car radio, even though I really need to get into the grocery store before the salad bar closes up for the night?
Sign me up; I’d rather pause a moment, forgo an extra tourist stop or a salad, and spend a few extra mindful moments with the music.
And be grateful for it.
Mary Ellen Wright is an LNP staff writer. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers.