I’ve been in theatre my entire life. At age three, my mother put me in a tutu, as I pranced around a dance recital stage. When I was seven, she started driving me to New York City for off-off Broadway show auditions. In the summers of my preteen years, my mom would wake me up in the morning with the sunny exclamation, “Time for acting camp!”
After my mom died when I was a teenager, I was terrified of getting on stage again. I worried that it would hurt too much. I worried that she’d be in the wings whispering to me, and I’d forget everything. But as I grew older and sought to make my own decisions, I knew I could never leave theatre. Not only was it a part of my mom, but it was a part of me. So, I did straight plays in college, kept up tap dancing at my local dance studio, and after having my son, found the strength and wherewithal to audition for community theatre.
Over the past three years, I’ve done over half a dozen shows, ranging from tap dancing in one scene to being on stage every other song. When my father passed away just a few weeks after my performance of The Little Mermaid in 2016, I realized that if I hadn’t done that show, I might not have seen him so soon before he passed. He loved that show, and he enjoyed getting to see it with friends and family.
More recently, I’m dancing in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a high-energy, sing-a-long style musical about three drag queens traveling across Australia. With 12 costume changes, five shoe changes, four wig changes and 12 scenes, I’m very busy during this show. I don’t have time to reflect on anything, but when the dust (or glitter) settles, it’s important to reflect.
My parents never missed a show, and I know they would have loved this one. I have the unparalleled support of my family, friends, neighbors and coworkers, but none of them are my parents. However, through all of it, I cannot be more excited to get on stage, share the joy of theatre with the cast and loved ones, and remember that this is all my parents ever wanted for me. My mother knew that the stage would be my safe haven, and a place where I could express myself and find true joy. She knew this before I could talk. And she was right.
What makes me the person I am today is my ability to embrace who I am, and how I like to share and engage with the world. Whether it’s meeting new people at work, spending time with the Little League coaches, or visiting hospice patients with my dog, every experience is a chance to engage with a new person in this world. Perhaps the stage is more of an opportunity to do that with many people at once, but those one-on-one interactions are just as special.
Whether I’m on or off the stage, I take my learnings from theatre with me. Be yourself, be friendly and open, have no fear, and smile wide. My parents may not be on this earth anymore, but they remind me everyday that the stage, the theatre, and my everyday experiences are all shining moments. Break a leg!