Monday, February 8, 2010

I was walking right next to Santino Fontana this morning.

Now, I know what you're thinking.

"Santino Fontana is able to go ANYWHERE without twelve bodyguards?"

No, you're not.

You're thinking, "Who's Santino Fontana?"

Four years ago, one of my all-time favorite shows came back off-Broadway after only being gone a few years...(it ran for over forty years the first time!) I love The Fantasticks. It is a sweet, simple, lovely show with some of the most beautiful music ever written.

It's about a boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall.

Santino played The Boy...and I immediately recognized him as one of those thin, young-looking Italian guys that opens his mouth to sing and all you can think is...

"WOW."

What a beautiful voice.

Santino went on to appear in Sunday in the Park with George and Billy Elliot...

...and then came Brighton Beach Memoirs...which closed quickly and cancelled the sequel, Broadway Bound. (Santino was to appear in both.) He was quickly cast in A View from the Bridge...but was forced to leave when he suffered a concussion onstage.

The guy has had a rough past few months...and it's discouraging to see somebody so very talented have a rough time!

And so I was crossing the street the same time as Santino and decided to say, "I've seen you in a bunch of shows...you're terrific!"

I'm not sure if Santino's expression was of alarm or confusion.

Or maybe just surprise.

"Thank you very much!" the former Boy from the Fantasticks said.

We went our separate ways.

Despite the fact that I might have freaked him out, I started thinking about how much power a single compliment can have.

For all I know, the boy's been feeling down about his recent not-so-wonderful luck!

And maybe a random curly-haired strange telling him he was terrific on 57th street at 9:00 AM on a Monday morning was just what he needed!

I told my mother this story, and she told me about how she was taking a walk and stopped to tell a woman doing yardwork how beautiful the landscaping of her home was. The woman's face lit-up.

I decided that I'm going to start paying five random compliments a day.

I invite you all to join in me on this goal!

(I told my friend Matt about this, and he said he was going to try...and then said, "Is it a compliment to tell somebody their child is annoying? Because I really wanted to on the bus today..." Well, I think you COULD say, "How did a person that seems as nice as you have such an annoying child?" Kill two birds with one stone!!!)

I am looking forward to finding more things to compliment, and hopefully in turn, finding beauty in things and people I never would have noticed before.

It's going to be exciting!

(I would also like to add a disclaimer...Peter Cincotti remains my favorite thin, young-looking Italian boy with talent that makes me go "WOW". Santino, however, makes a convincing argument.)

Compliment away!!!

Diana Rissetto