A million years ago I used to dream of being on stage. I didn’t want to be famous. I didn’t even want to be known. I just wanted to grow up and sing and dance and act on stage in front of a live audience who felt moved in some way.
But I was chicken.
Not at first. At first I was brave.
In Junior High, I had the supporting role in The Little Princess and then at the last minute the friend with the lead didn’t want to be the lead so I stepped in because of course I had memorized everyone’s role. I wasn’t chicken then. I was Sarah Crewe, The Little Princess, and I loved every damn second of it. I loved the auditions and the rehearsals and all the work behind, in and on the stage. I thought for sure that was what I would do for all of my life. I thought I was pretty ok at it, and did I mention I loved every damn minute of it? Because I did.
A few years later, when field hockey happened during fall plays and softball during spring musicals, I settled only for acting classes in high school, not real acting in school productions. Thank goodness our church youth minister was silly enough to try to put on a play. That year, I got to be Sally in Charlie Brown’s Christmas and I loved every second of it, even the parts everyone else hated, I loved because they meant being around theater and that was enough for me.
But it was only church, not a scary school performance where I had to go up against real actors. I was Sally to my best friend’s Lucy. She was the lead in Anything Goes at her high school and she killed it. Her voice was better. Her stage presence was better. I was afraid if I wasn’t like her I’d never make the cast. I was afraid I didn’t shine like she so I never even tried out. She was brave.
Me? I was an athlete. Because that’s what Ritzs did. They played sports. Not acted. So I accepted my fate at 14 that I would need to find other dreams because even though I loved acting and singing, Ritzs didn’t act or sing. I threw myself into every other aspect of live theater. I know shows. I know technique. I was the nerd in college who went to see the student lead performances and traveled out of town for theater performances. But I never acted beyond sorority skits. Ritzs don’t act.
But Kings? They do.
I married the male lead in Anything Goes (different high school) and thanked my lucky stars every day that he was A)straight B)supremely confident and C)had strong genes to pass on to our kids.
Flash forward a lot of years to tech week at The Girl’s first show outside the safety of her school. She came to us months ago and said she found an audition in New York City. She said can we go? We thought, is it too soon? Is she ready? Can she handle rejection or even acceptance on that large a scale? We’ve tried to be laid back for her. Keep it fun for her. Not foist any of our dreams undiscovered on her. So far, she has tried it all and loved every second of it.
In the end, we decided yes. We said ok. She tried out, without a head shot and with a resume we put together on my laptop the night before. She tried out, without dance shoes, but instead Chuck Taylor’s that she danced her heart out in. She felt totally prepared. I felt worried she wasn’t at all.
I made her dad take her. He is brave, like she.
She got in. Ensemble, but still very in. She knows everyone’s role. She’s the young kid in the old kid cast. She’s in and she’s so very brave.
For weeks she has schlepped in and out of the city for hours on Sunday. She’s missed soccer games and school dances and birthday parties. She’s done homework on the train and been cranky every Monday morning since rehearsals started on Sunday many weeks ago.
This week, she will be here every night until dark when we will ride the train home for nearly two hours and go to sleep hours after she should. This week she is giddy with anticipation, almost as if noticing for the first time she is about to be in a play not far from where that picture above, of pure NYC glee, was taken not so many years ago.
This weekend, she will be on a stage in New York City performing in a cast of wildly talented kids, surrounded by her adoring fans. And, man does she have adoring fans.
For three shows, I will likely weep and weep with pride, like I’ve done at every performance since she was old enough to stand on stage. For all I ever dreamed about when I was a kid was being on stage in New York City, and all I’ve ever worried about since having kids is pushing my dreams on them.
It seems I couldn’t even dream about how much better it would be to watch my kid be on a stage in New York City than to do it myself. I couldn’t even conceive the joy that comes from seeing your kid be brave and chase her very own dreams. I may not have been brave enough to chase all of mine, but I did something right in teaching her to get the heck after hers.
I’m so proud of this kid. So, so proud.
She is brave. She is bold. She is my dream come true.
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