My husband and I met in a comedy writing class at the Acme Comedy Theater. Both of us have loved performing and acting since we were young. In fact, when I was in 4th -6th grade, my class put on a play every year. In 4th grade, I was too scared to audition. In 5th grade, we did The Wizard of Oz. I auditioned for Glinda the Good Witch and The Wicked Witch of the West. Sadly, I wasn’t cast as either, but ended up being Auntie Em.
I also danced in high school. I mostly joined because I’d much rather take a dance class than do an actual P.E. class, but ended up LOVING it. My husband did plays in high school in college, and we both performed improv in our 20s, which ultimately led us to each other.
Though we rarely perform these days, it’s still in our blood, so to speak. We do bits at home and play a game with the kids called “Who am I?” where we act as a character in a movie and everyone has to guess who we are. We also often have dance parties in the house. When it came time to send our children to school, our top two choices were schools with a strong element of visual and performing arts. (Having taught at a school where it was a huge part of the curriculum, I knew I wanted my own children to be a part of a school like that.)
When our son got to kindergarten, and the kindergartners performed their big show, he was very uncomfortable on stage. He sometimes sang the songs, and his movements were very small. It was all he could do to just get through it and be off that stage. Though a part of me was disappointed that he wasn’t comfortable or having fun up there, I didn’t try to push him to do something he hated. He needed to be participating, but beyond that, we didn’t encourage him to try out for a part, because we knew it wasn’t his thing.
It wasn’t until 3rd grade that he decided to really enjoy himself up there. For the Holiday show, he practiced all the songs with gusto – and it continued when he was on the risers on stage.
At our school, the entire 4th grade class puts on a musical. My son came home and excitedly said to me, “Mom! We got our parts for the play today and I’m so excited! I got my first choice!” Surprised at how excited he was, I asked, “What’s that?” “PROPS!” he said, a huge grin on his face. There was a brief splinter of a moment where I thought, “Darn. For a second I thought he tried out for a performing part,” but I knew this is what he wanted, and I smiled broadly and proudly at him and said, “That’s GREAT! Tell me about it!”
Over the next few weeks he’d excitedly tell me about the set pieces he was painting, and he’d start practicing the songs the entire 4th grade would be singing. Soon, he was rehearsing them day and night, adding his own personality, accents, and movements to the songs. He performed them enthusiastically for us, our family, visiting friends, whoever came to the house. He would come into his sisters’ room and sing for them. I was loving every minute of this, as it truly gave him joy.
Last week, however, he came home a bit angry. He said, “I’m angry, Mom. The kids who are the ACTORS are getting SINGING solos. That’s not fair!” He was distraught that he wasn’t more informed. Why were the actors singing? He wanted to sing, but had no interest in acting. He was crestfallen that he wasn’t given the information he needed to make the best decision for him. Though, to be fair, he also didn’t know ahead of time that he’d fall in love with singing all the songs.
Well, yesterday, he came home ecstatic. He took initiative and asked his teacher if he could sing toward the front of the group, so he could be seen better. The teachers did one better and gave him a bit of a singing solo. He’s beyond excited, and so are we – not just because we get to see him perform, but because my previously shy boy took it upon himself to speak up and ask for a part.
Way to go, Sean! I can’t wait to see him singing next week!!