When I was six, I landed the acting role of a lifetime: I was cast as the lead in the critically acclaimed The Little White Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.
From what I’m told (read: according to my mother), I not only knew my lines inside out and backwards but also the rest of the cast’s. I can remember that some kid named Jeremy couldn’t seem to master his craft and he had to rely on me to help him through his scenes (read: I recited his lines for him because he spent most of his time staring in horror at the audience). And, we won’t talk about the performance where I kicked the painted shrubbery to remind the goat, played by some girl named Rebecca, that she had a line.
I was bitten by the acting bug pretty early on in my life.
After my breakout role as The Little White Rabbit, I went on to have an illustrious career in theater. I begged my parents for acting classes, I landed small parts in school plays and I basically stole every opportunity to speak into a microphone that I could because I loved how I felt on stage. I’m not sure if it was because I came alive when the lights dimmed or because I was a budding narcissist, when I stood in front of a crowd, I felt centered and calm.
And, when I realized I could make people laugh with my antics on stage? Well, let’s just say a star was born.
In eighth grade, I was cast in the lead our class production of Cheaper By The Dozen. I played Ann, the eldest daughter of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, in a play based on the real life Gilbreth clan (all 12 of them) and Frank’s quest to find efficiency amidst the chaos of 10 children underfoot.
And I killed it in that role.
Like, it was a Tony worthy performance, bitchachos.
In a sold out performance (read: the gym filled with parents obligated to attend), I uttered lines like, “You snake in the grass!” and captivated the audience with my ability to play a sixteen year old when I was only thirteen. My eye rolling game was on point. During our final curtain call, I remember thinking acting was what I wanted to do with my life.
And it terrified me.
Because I always worried I wasn’t “good enough” to take center stage.
As I aged out of childhood roles and started to search for more mature scripts (read: went to high school), a tiny voice started to nag at me, “You don’t have what it takes to make it as a dancer.” (Or was that a Three’s Company episode?)
I always auditioned for our high school musicals but never for the leads. Because, as it turns out, stage fright and the fear of failure in front of an audience is a real thing.
Throughout high school, I owned my parts as “Villager” in Brigadoon, “NYC Tourist #3” in Guys and Dolls and “I Don’t Remember What My Character Was But It Was Pivotal AF” in My Fair Lady.
And I watched as my talented friends took center stage for soliloquies and big musical numbers all the while thinking, “I wonder if I could pull that off?”
My theater career came to a grinding halt after my senior year of high school. Because I’d chosen a science major (read: I didn’t have the stones to apply as a theater major), my schedule simply didn’t allow for musical theater. I’d look longingly at the audition notices in the Student Center as I headed off to my nursing clinicals and I’d tell myself it was for the best.
Truth be told, I’m a closeted Broadway actress.
When I am alone (read: doing laundry or washing dishes), I can be found belting out Broadway show tunes. Daisy the Shih Tzu has been subjected to my Christine from Phantom of The Opera, my Norma from Sunset Boulevard and my Adelaide from Guys and Dolls. And I sing “Let It Go” like nobody’s business when I have writer’s block (don’t judge).
And I’ll probably never perform on the Great White Way.
Actually, that’s not *entirely* true.
In what can only be described as a “deer in the headlights” moment during a Broadway performance of Grease when I was a sophomore in college, I was selected to join an actor on stage as he “warmed up” the crowd. I had finally made it to the big time: a Broadway stage.
The unfortunate part? It was December and I was wearing a green velvet dress. The actor made jokes about me looking like a pool table. What can I say? It was the 90s. Velvet was a thing back then, okay?
Not the Broadway experience I’d hoped for but, really, who really “makes it” on Broadway, anyway, right?
My friend Gavin has, that’s who.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of sitting in the Hudson Theater in NYC, yes, a Broadway theater, and watching gleefully as he played the lead role of Basilius, King of Arcadia, in Head Over Heels.(Sidebar: you have to see this show. Seriously. The New York Times ran a center spread that said, “Meet a king about to lose his throne, a queen about to lose her inhibitions and two princesses about to find love.” Go see it. Here, I’ll help you: get tickets HERE. I’m a giver, I know.) Oh, and the entire show is about smashing the patriarchy. And love. And, JUST GO, okay?
In a Broadway show.
A Broadway show set to music from the Go-Gos. I mean, come on. Belinda Carlisle?
He is living actual Heaven On Earth.
Or at least my version of heaven.
As I watched my friend nail his cues, make an entire Broadway theater roar with laughter and ultimately catch my eye at the end of the show and wink (read: screw up his drumstick choreography but I won’t tell if you don’t), I was in awe.
And if you were to ask me if I was a tiny bit jealous?
My lips are sealed.