Ever since I was in high school, I’ve wanted to get into the theatre. I’ve wanted to act in plays, see behind the scenes and get that thrill of getting to be someone else for a few hours. Unfortunately I never had the self-confidence to even audition. Ten and a half years later I have been to, and bombed, two play auditions with our local theatre company, Playhouse 395. My first audition was for Music Man, one of my absolute favorite musicals ever written. I went in completely nervous and unprepared. Not the best thing you want to do. The next year I couldn’t audition for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat due to schedule conflicts but still managed to help selling souvenirs. That play was amazing. Then last year I managed to be a little more prepared for my South Pacific audition, but nerves got the better of me and most of the time I sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” flat and a little off key. I also couldn’t do the dance like I should have because I ended up massively straining and slightly rupturing my left quad practicing the dance the week before the audition and was on crutches up until the day of the audition. I still helped out with the selling of concessions and got to watch almost every performance they did. I started to become friends with a lot of the people involved in Playhouse 395 and they were more than willing to give any advice they could. One piece of advice was repeated over and over from just about every person, “Just keep trying and one day you’ll get the part you want. Just go in with as much confidence that you can have and give it your best. All you can do is try.”
Playhouse 395 does at least three plays a year. In the spring, the cast is mainly adults. In the summer they do a Children’s Theatre Workshop where the kids are from 7 (I think) to about 12 years old (I don’t remember the exact age range). This year they did Disney’s Aladdin. Then in the fall they have a production that is for middle school and high school kids. These last few weeks have been filled with the wonderful music of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr. My aunt Debbie is one of the producers and she asked if I could take the headshots of the kids for their auditions. Sure why not. Then I was asked if I could do the production photos as the rehearsals went along. Sure why not. Then I was asked if I could decorate the cast cake. Of course. I love cake decorating. Then we were informed that Donnie, the Stage Manager, lost a few guys from stage crew at the last minute. It didn’t take me long to volunteer for that as well. We have now had three performances (four if you include the invited dress rehearsal) and we have three left.
Watching what goes into the production of a play is incredible. Beauty and the Beast, Jr. became a family affair for us. As I said, my aunt Debbie is a producer and also helped make the character pieces of the costumes. My cousin Marisa plays Babette and is the understudy for Belle and even helped with some of the costumes. My cousin Acacia is one of the acting coaches, has helped with some of the costumes and is in charge of the props. My mom is in charge of the costumes and my grandmother helped make some of them. My uncle has helped wherever needed. Over the last three years or so all of us have fallen in love with the theatre and everything it has to offer.
For some of you that know me, I’m a hermit. I think I’ve said that before in this blog. I am happy locked away in my apartment, but lately that has been taking a toll on me both physically and emotionally. I am beginning to use the theatre as a means of escape from my everyday routine. I have not been home much these last few months. Instead, I have been outside, meeting new people, finding something that feels right. Never would I have guessed that I could get on a stage and not care how many people see me.
Playhouse 395 is a non-profit organization and I know it runs on donations. I cannot afford to donate money but I give as much as I can through my time, efforts and talents. Once I am out of debt, I know I will donate much more than that. It takes so many people to put on a production. Actors can only do so much to bring the characters and stories to life, but the people behind the scenes, from the director to a person handing a book to the actor, fills in what the actors cannot. It is only with the efforts of all the people donating their time and talents that make a play come to life.
I don’t think I can ever thank Playhouse 395 enough for everything they have done for this community and me.