Bravo

I was a honeybee in a musical in first grade. I was on stage on the opening (and only) night singing my big number along with a few dozen other honeybees, and one of my cardboard wings fell off my shoulder and dangled awkwardly from my elbow. But at six years old, I was already a professional and knew that the show must go on. And so it did, and so I did. On and on for twelve more years with my dreams of being an actor, kind of.

I was in the chorus, in the school musicals, in the church plays and pageants. In seventh grade, I landed the lead role in the middle school musical, a casting decision that displeased more that one eighth grade student. Later, my brother started a band and I was the lead singer. I was destined to be a star.

But my freshman year of high school, I was still relatively humble and didn’t have many expectations for instant dramatic success among all the older students. There were quite a few seniors with exceptional voices and acting talent. I was content to play minor roles and help out my friends on stage crew until those starlets graduated, and then I could reclaim my place in spotlight.

And then, Amanda Becker moved to our school. Amanda Becker belted out the Broadway hits like she was already on Hammerstein’s payroll. I didn’t stand a chance against her. It was fine to share the stage with her in Girls Choir and the Guy and Dolls choir, and fine that she decided to butt in on hand bell choir as well, but I was not going to play second fiddle to her in the musicals.

And thus began the end of my acting career. Not because of Amanda Becker, but because of my own sour grapes attitude. I was still involved in drama. My friends were on the stage crew and the AV team for the musicals, so I joined them. I loved running around backstage with them after school hours. But I definitely felt like it was a bit of revenge on everyone in the school. That they were missing out on my amazing talent and haha – too bad for them.

I was still in the plays at school (our high school put on both a play and a musical every year) and landed some major roles because while Amanda may have far surpassed my singing talent, I was still an A-lister in the acting world. Quite the achievement in a school of 600 students. But when we put on A Christmas Carol in my senior year, a play which does not have a female lead, I seemed to have a lot of trouble getting myself to rehearsals and even performances on time.

I also took an acting class at a private academy in the city and landed the role of Emily in Our Town. But when my classmates proved to be not so great at memorizing lines, causing the director to change our performance to a reader’s theater format, I pretty quickly lost interest in taking more classes there. I wanted to be moving around on stage, demonstrating all of my phenomenal talent, not sitting on a stool reading aloud with a bunch of losers.

In my freshman year of college, the final straw was when an upperclassmen approached me and asked me to be in the play he was putting on. Of course I was quite flattered and thrilled that this guy had so quickly recognized my unparalleled talent. Until I realized that I would be wearing a cloak and hood in his play and walking hunched over. I declined, probably impolitely. And when I dropped out of that college and returned to Buffalo, I went for a professional audition at a local theater and was humbled once and for all when I was dismissed by the director barely 30 seconds after I began my audition.

I ended up teaching for 12 years after I finished college. I got to be the star of my own classroom again and again and again. I’d like to say I was less bratty, but I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stand students who didn’t pay attention and who didn’t do the work I assigned them. I thought it was insulting. I also got involved briefly with an English-speaking drama group when I was in Moscow, but the director was temperamental and the whole production fell apart shortly after we started rehearsals. And scene.

 

What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter B: Benchmark 60The blogger’s WTF Wednesday entries are saucy, hysterical, and seriously WTF. She hasn’t posted in awhile, but I certainly hope to see more.

15 thoughts on “Bravo

  1. Oh Jen – this post made me smile so much along with you – I too played many a part on stage until moving into teaching and playing a part continuously in front of my class – educator, nurse, game-show host, librarian, agony aunt, magician, hypnotist and many more as you no doubt did too – it’s funny how life turns out isn’t it? Will be back to sample more certainly – keep up the good work 🙂
    Pempi
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had acting aspirations at one time, too, though I didn’t hold on to them for quite as long as you did. My oldest daughter wants to make a career of acting, though, so it’s in the blood somewhere. 🙂

    Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Surfed in from A-to-Z. Hahaha! Ah, the angst and aspirations of the school-aged! My first role was that of a squirrel in a circus…not actually sure now how those two connected…. I just remember my kindergarten crush, Clint, was the ringmaster and he got to wear a top hat and black tailcoat and carry a whip, which he almost whacked me with. Sigh. But since I went to small religious schools, our plays and musicals were always written specially for us, and thus, we never did the “real” repertoire.

    What did you teach? (I teach high school English.)

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    • Isn’t it funny the things we remember from so far back? Clint must have been very cute! I mostly taught English as a second language, but occasionally found myself teaching other subjects like math, drawing, and even handwriting at some bilingual schools in Latin America.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He was a redhead! I had “a thing” for them in elementary and middle school. Hahaha! What a great and varied teaching experience you had! You must have some awesome stories…!

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  4. What an interesting story. I love how you mention the similarities between acting and teaching. It seems we all have moments where we are “performing” in our lives. 😀 Good luck on the challenge! We’re doing “I’ve Got The Music In Me” this year on The Road We’ve Shared. – looking at how important music is in the Down syndrome community. I hope you’ll stop by and see/hear! http://theroadweveshared.com/category/a-to-z-blogging-challenge-2016

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  5. I never really thought about the fact that some plays don’t have female (or male) leads, like The Christmas Carol production at your school. Makes me wonder if for school productions, they should think about choosing a play which has a more balanced selection of roles. Very interesting post!

    Cheers – Ellen | thecynicasailor.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My kids are into theatre even at ages 11 and 9. They each participate in their school plays and so do I behind the scenes. So far, it’s been a blast. I was too shy to get on stage at their age.

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