The Show Must Go On!
Yesterday afternoon at approximately 3 pm, I found myself frantically racing through the aisles of my local supermarket. I flew past the bread aisle, the juice aisle, the laundry aisle, the baked goods aisle, the fresh produce aisle, until finally I had reached my destination… The Candy Aisle!
I grabbed boxes of Hershey Bars, Reeses Pieces, Star Burst Fruit Chews, Swedish Fish, Gummy Bears, Nerds, Runts, Milk Duds, and Junior Mints. I rammed my cart into the checkout line, silently begging the elderly woman in front of me to quickly write out her check, paid for my items, ran to my car, opened the door, and threw my goodie into the front seat. Then I turned out of the parking lot, and onto the road, praying for green signals to light the way as I came closer and closer to my destination.
Finally I arrived as the first act of the Medford, New Jersey Panther Player’s production of Annie neared its final number. Along with a myriad of moms, we threw the candy on the concession stand tables, just in time for the throngs of hungry theatergoers to lay down their dough.
Run out of candy during intermission? Not on our watch!
Concession salesperson and frantic shopper are just two of the titles adopted by the dozens of moms and dads who helped turn ordinary middle school students into extraordinary Broadway bound actors. For the past five month we became advertising sales executives, graphic artists, chaperones, set builders, makeup artists, and costume designers. We juggled work schedules to arrange rehearsal car pools, purchased stage shoes, make up, black tanks, tights, hair brushes and bobby pins; returned said tights, and purchased tights again in a different size, all while coordinating band concerts, soccer practice, and play dates for actors’ siblings and tending to, oh yeah, our actual paid jobs.
Why do we do it? Why does a parent do anything for his or her child? Love.
At most, we hope to someday see our offspring’s name in lights on The Great White Way. At best, we hope they make friends, learn new skills, gain confidence, enhance their self esteem, and most of all, have fun!
At times the long rehearsal hours certainly didn’t seem like fun to our kids. Laden with homework, they juggled singing and dancing with mandatory studying, and still, they kept up their grades. They suffered from sore throats and sore feet, yet, in the end, as they stood on stage, staring into the faces of a sold out crowd, the smiles on their faces and the twinkle in their eyes told the world that they’d do it all again for this glorious moment in the sun!
Annie marked the second opportunity for my 14-year old daughter Melissa to share the spotlight with her fellow cast mates. The first came during a local summer drama camp production of The Music Man, where, as part of the ensemble she played a teen in an Iowa town. Although the role came with limited stage time, she carefully studied the techniques of the older, more seasoned student actors, and the experience wet her appetite for more.
This time, cast in the adult ensemble as one of Daddy Warbucks’ dozens of servants, Melissa appeared in four musical numbers, standing in the front row, dazzling with a beautiful smile and singing her heart out.
As I sat in the audience on opening night, watching in awe at my daughter’s debut, a tiny lump of emotion formed in my throat and made its way up to the corner of my eyes. While adjectives aplenty can be used to describe my feelings at that moment, the one word that immediately comes to mind is pride. A gigantic, enormous sense of pride for her determination, dedication, and spirited ambition to keep acting, keep singing, and harness her incredible talent for all to see!
Next year, as high school beckons, I have no doubt she’ll audition once again for another school production. As for me, I’ll join my fellow stage parents in driving, shopping, cutting, pasting, painting, building, designing, and creating. For behind every great actor is a great mom and dad, doing whatever they can, because, as the old adage goes, the show must go on!
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