When I was in eighth grade I auditioned for and landed the role of Mother Abyss in our school's production of the “Sound of Music.” My solo was, “Climb Every Mountain.” I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the experience. I learned to build sets, and learned my lines. I learned the lines of the actors with whom I was performing as
this would allow me to “adlib” should they miss their line. I learned that to wear a costume unflattering to me was not an issue at all as it was the character I was portraying who was wearing that outfit. And I learned that whether the audience enjoyed the performance was based almost completely on the energy we, the cast, projected. We had to capture their hearts and minds. We had to transform these people who “didn’t like musicals” into people who went away humming those songs that defined the musical.
During high school I performed in several community theatre productions and again, thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Sometimes I was acting on stage. Sometimes I was playing my violin in the pit orchestra. Always, I was helping build sets and making costumes. After college, I returned to Bowie, MD, where, once again, I participated in the Musicomedy Productions. That is, until I met the man who would be my first husband.
He was not interested in such things as theatre. And so I did not seek out the community theatre when we moved to Tallahassee, Fl and married. We lived ten years in Tallahassee, FL, before moving to Gloucester, VA. About a year after we moved here, I saw an advertisement for auditions for the local community theatre’s production of “Carnival.” I voiced an interest, and my husband, grudgingly decided it would be alright for me to audition. The whole family went.
At least 200 people audition for about 75 roles (including chorus members) and those who auditioned were all ages, shapes and sizes. My husband had been amazed at the auditions as had my children, then 8 and 6. I got the call the following day, that I had been selected.
And so it was that my family was suddenly “involved” -- living and breathing the practice, set building, costume making, etc. They were hooked and for the remainder of my children’s school years we actively took part in every one of the Court House Players’ Productions. The summer my children were14 and 16, they performed in the Musical “Godspell.” This cast was comprised completely of youth, and it was a perfect demonstration of the lessons my children had learned through their years in these productions:
Every cast member must work together to allow the star to shine
Every time a costume is donned, the character is lived
Though you may look silly to yourself, your character is but a part of the complete picture which tells the story
Loving what you are doing and caring about those with whom you are doing it, make the experience one that you will always cherish
Your audience will be a reflection of your energy.
They learned through the theatre the same lessons many learn through team sports. The need to be an individual can never be so powerful that we lose sight of the fact that our cast of supporting characters is necessary for us to shine. Conversely, our need to “not stand out in the crowd” requires that we play our supporting role to others with care and attention to detail. For as much as the star who forgets her lines and stands on the stage looking blankly at the audience will adversely impact the audience’s experience, so too will the single chorus member, who misses the turn in the choreographed dance. We all must be aware of the role we are playing, and play it to the very best of our ability.
And always, always remember:
Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every byway
'Til you find your dream...
And now, the photos which will embarrass my children for the rest of their lives......