I went to the theatre last night. It was a community theatre production that held a tiny house – about 80 people in total. And I was in the front row where I was afraid to stretch out my legs for fear of tripping an actor as they worked through the challenging music, lyrics, and choreography that only Sondheim could have subjected an actor to. And I was transported not only “Into the Woods” but also back to a time when I loved working in the theatre. I love the artistic flow, the creativity, and the energy that comes from being surrounded by people who love what they are doing.
In the last week or so I’ve some interactions leading up to this lovely evening where we’ve debated the merits of various Tony winners following the most recent awards. We made wish lists for tickets and Broadway weekends, talked about shows we’ve seen, and turned with green with envy at what tickets others have lined up! I’ve been listening in my memory to Colm Wilkinson singing “Who am I? Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean.” To Bernadette Peters’ challenging that “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.” To Audra MacDonald’s thrilling, powerful harmonizing on the “Wheels of a Dream” with Brian Stokes Mitchell. And to Mitchell sending chills through me with his “Impossible Dream.” (I’ve also moved from my memory to Spotify, of course.) And I’m actively seeking people who would like to buy me tickets to see Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, The Band’s Visit, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Three Tall Women, Come From Away…
Once upon a time I had a dream of standing in the spotlight receiving my awards for outstanding performance. I saw myself standing there thanking everyone who had encouraged me and thumbing my nose at the naysayers. I loved working in the theatre. I loved being on the stage. I loved working backstage. I loved it all. When I got out of school, I did some community theatre. But then I found a full-time teaching job, I got married, I had a child. Life rolled on and I lost the theatre.
I still enjoyed going every chance I got, but I haven’t been on stage or even back stage in many long years. I lacked the confidence and the courage to give it a real shot. Once over the years since “real life” took over, I had a perfect chance to perform. I auditioned and was cast. I became energized and excited during a particularly low time; it renewed me. And then the voice of reason and the voice of guilt started speaking. “You’re a mother.” “You have responsibilities.” “How can you devote your whole summer to doing that every weekend?” (Funny how the voices of reason and guilt often sound like your mother or other well-meaning people.) The doubts rushed in and I fled. Not giving it a shot, professionally or then, is one of my regrets.
Last night stirred something in me that I haven’t felt in a long time. My mind started to sing like Mike in A Chorus Line, “Hell, I can do that, I can do that!” I’m ready to get back out there. I still can’t sing and dance, but I’ve had years of performance in front of class after class. I still have the love of theatre. And I can still gather props, build sets, change a scene, and be a part of it all! I need to get up and get out there. I know it would be a wonderful challenge for me. Time to explore the possibilities. So, wish me luc… Oops, I mean tell me to break a leg.