I’m going to be honest. I never thought I would be sitting here writing this blog. Never in a million years. But here it is… I’m in love. Actually I have been in love for a long time. Longer then I have even known my Lantern. It has just been recently intensified. Namely, I’m in a show. A musical. But not just any musical. Quite literally my favorite musical in the whole world. Little Shop of Horrors.
Ok… maybe that sounds a little crazy. However, I really don’t have any other words that describes how I feel about this musical. It has a really special place in my heart. In 2003, I saw my first ever live show. It was a college production of Little Shop of Horrors. What can I say? It was vibrant… it was sincere… it was just pure and utter perfection to my eyes. I literally fell in love. In my foolish 9th grade mind, I was convinced that this was what I was supposed to do with my life. I was so filled with life and inspiration. It was my whole world. In fact, it inspired me so much that in 2004 I did my first show.
Many other shows followed the first one. I tasted some of the bitterness. Acting was harder than it looked. I had a hard time with auditions. I played in a lot of ensembles. Sometimes I wasn’t cast at all. I decided to try to strengthen my assets. I was still convinced that this was supposed to be my life. I had no interest at all in movies or Hollywood… I was straight up Broadway, through and through. I took private voice lessons. I enlisted in dance class after dance class. I sang in every choir I could find. I took an acting camp. I got stronger… I got fitter. I was determined. All through high school I overloaded myself, trying to make myself the best performer I could be.
After I graduated, I moved to community theatre. I put a lot of thought into my degree program, but in the end decided it would be better to be logical than throw all of my eggs in the one musical basket. I had already been met with a lot of disappointment. To be honest, I was losing faith. I was beginning to think maybe I wasn’t good enough after all. I figured community theatre might be a better bet. So here I was… working two jobs, 20 credit hours of undergrad on my plate, running to 6 hour rehearsals every night. It wasn’t so bad the first year. I was still 18. I could run like a freight train through everything I had to do with little sleep. It was mostly ensemble work, but I also had a few choreography jobs. (As it turns out, I was a lot stronger of a dancer then anything else at this point). I was happy. I got my little taste to keep me going.
The next year everything went to hell. I got cast in a show that I really loved as a showgirl. Another chorus part, but it was a lot of dancing. I knew I was good at that, so I felt confident. But in the course of our over two month rehearsal schedule, my body just started to break down. Not only was I working two jobs, babysitting every weekend overnight for two kids that I really loved, and still racking up 20 hours a pop in college, but I had taken on a choreography job at a high school during the day, and had a full-time dance partner that I was still practicing with. With Rehearsal every night too, I could easily average 30 hours a week just on dancing. By the time I got to the last week of rehearsals for that show, I had both knees and both ankles wrapped. The two weeks of performances, I had my worst ankle taped with my foot at a point so I could still wear my high heels. It was miserable, but it was still everything to me. The adrenaline rush… it was like pumping my body full of straight caffeine and letting it go. I was a different person on stage. I didn’t feel the pain. I didn’t feel hurt about parts that I did or didn’t get. I didn’t feel wasted. I just felt at home. It was like this persona (Roxie, as my best friend in high school nick-named her) that I had with me all time could only show through when I was up there. I wasn’t that dorky, quiet girl with glasses who was always reading or writing anymore. I was someone I could be sought after. I was beautiful and funny and all of the things I wanted to be normally.
When I finished that show, I had every intention of continuing. I really did. However, a very dear friend of mine who I worked with on the show with me died rather tragically. It tore me up. He was like another father to me, and I truly just loved him to death. My drive was gone. I didn’t want to sing… I didn’t want to act. The only thing I really held on to was the dance, but it was really only because I could separate it. That year, 2008, I was sure I had done my last show. Sadly, after time even the dancing went away. Injuries just kept happening. My dream was gone.
When Green Lantern and I got together, he very much supported my love of theatre. He would take me to shows, put up with me singing and dancing around the house, and listen while I chatted mindlessly about the movie musicals I loved. He knew what kind of mood I would be in depending on what musical I was watching. He tried to be supportive, in the best way a military man can be. I appreciated it. I started working with the kids on their shows, and it was a nice little outlet. A little reminder of what I had been given in the past. But my desire for it didn’t really come back. I watched audition notices come and go… but nothing really moved me out of my slump. I just chalked it up to a part of my life that was over.
Then I saw it. The audition notice for Little Shop of Horrors. The show that, for me, had started it all. The desire was instantaneous. It was like that “Roxie” all of sudden woke up and just started screaming her head off that she wanted out. How I agonized over this choice. I was afraid. Actually it wasn’t even afraid… it was terrified. I had been out of the game for 5 years. Green Lantern had not been home long, and I didn’t want to be away from him. I knew how much time it would take. It is a 40 minute drive to practice on a good traffic day. I tried to get advice from my mom and my Lantern both, but neither wanted to give me a straight answer. It was a choice that had to come from in me. I knew it, but I just needed that push. The push came in the form of my dad. Batman wrote me an email that really changed my outlook. Batman told me that I should go and try out. That I shouldn’t be afraid. I know it might not sound like a lot… but Batman is a man of few words. The fact that he stopped to tell me that… to remind me that I don’t need to let fear rule me… it makes me tear up a little bit now just looking at it. So I did it.
I showed up to auditions more nervous than I had never been in my life. I felt confident though. The audition consisted of acting, which came back like riding a bike, and singing. We were singing songs from the show… and I had memorized these songs when I was fourteen. I never dreamed I would get a big part… I just wanted to be in. I just want to experience it. I found myself hoping (but trying not to) for one of the three girls that kind of drive the story along. I didn’t think I had much of a shot at anything else. Then I got a call back, asking me to bring in some of my own music to sing.
I spend the next day feeling like I was gonna throw up the whole time. I had no music, no nothing. I had left it all in the states. I eventually found, after a search on the internet for a few hours, the sheet music to “All that Jazz” from Chicago. I thought I remembered it pretty well… so I gave it a shot. Talk about unprepared, right? I walked into the call back not knowing what to expect. And they said they wanted me to sing for Audrey. Audrey. The lead female in the show. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. It couldn’t be happening. In fact, I came out of the callback thinking there was no way I got the part. The girl I was going up against is absolutely phenomenal. She even blew me away. My only thought was it was a style choice. Do they want the raw, jazzy singer? or the beautiful, voice-of-an-angel?
When I got the cast list back… I screamed. Literally. Green Lantern thought I had hurt myself. But I saw it there, black and white on my computer screen… Audrey. My first ever lead in my life… and it was the part that had set this fire and passion in me ten years ago. I will admit it. I did cry a little bit. What else could I do? This little community theatre 40 minutes from my home and given me a chance to make the dream of my life come true.
So here we are… 5 or 6 weeks later (I can’t remember lol). I am staring Opening Night in the face. It starts tomorrow. My last dress rehearsal is tonight. I have literally been working day and night on this. Not only am I working this part, but I did all of the paper design work for it. Literally from the moment I get up in the morning, until I pull into my driveway at night after a long rehearsal, I am eating and breathing Little Shop. I am constantly listening to the music, and it seems like my script is permanently attached to my hand. I’m practicing the finer points of how to make that black eye I have to wear in the first act look realistic. I’m sure I am driving Green Lantern up a wall, asking him the finer points of how I say one line versus another. It’s stressful. It’s hard. And you know what? I have loved every minute of it.
Of course I’m nervous. Of course I’m scared. But every time I pull on that dress… do my make-up just a little too dark… walk out onto that stage in the lights… it’s like I found this piece of me that has been missing from my life for a long time. Sometimes when I open my mouth, I can’t believe that it is really my voice that is coming out of it. When I sing about my dream of being “Somewhere That’s Green”… I really feel it. Because for me… I’m finally there. When I’m standing there… belting out “Suddenly Seymour” with every ounce of energy I have left in my body… It’s like watching a miracle happen. I just can’t believe it’s actually happening to me. I never dreamed it would. This show, this role, means more to me then I can possibly express. Even now I’m struggling. I want so badly to make you guys understand just how much this one little thing has been changing my life everyday. It is the fulfillment of years of high school dreaming. It is the payoff for those years of voice lessons. It is redefining of my body as my own, after the injury and surgery made it feel like a stranger to me. After feeling broken for a long time… I feel whole. It is the embodiment of my “Roxie.”
Wish me Luck,