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Thursday’s Theatre Thing: Part 1

by Megan

I want to blog more, so I’ve recently been looking around to see how other people set up their blogs (especially some of the more successful ones, though I’m not looking to make any money this way). Some of the bloggers write about certain things on certain days of the week, and I really like that idea.

I was hesitant to start, because it will be a big committment for me to write every day when I already feel stretched to my limit, but I’m going to try, even if I don’t get to each topic each week.

I knew theatre would have to be one of my topics. It’s my passion, my hobby, and my career, all at the same time (um, awesome?), and I right away thought of “Thursday’s Theatre Thing” because I’ll be writing about all kinds of different things related to theatre. Many of the blogs I read are by crafters- people who have a knack for creating beautiful things with their hands. I am not one of those people. I wish I was, and sometimes I think I should spend more time learning how to craft and cook and things like that. Then I remember, oh, those people aren’t in rehearsal for hours and hours each week. I do different things with my time. So I will be writing on Thursdays about the thing I know and love- THEATRE!

So I’m going to kick off this Thing by just writing about my background in theatre. In other words, why you should listen to what I say! I do mostly musical theatre, so Thursday will include information about music and dance as well.

Sorry, this is going to be long! Feel free to skim!

Edit: This will be part 1- I am including way too many details!

When I was very little, I loved to sing. I sang all the time, and when I started elementary school (a Catholic school), I joined their choir as early as Kindergarten or 1st grade. I continued to sing in school choir throughout elementary and middle school. I attempted dance classes when I was 3, but we’ll save that story for another post.

I always loved music, and theatre, and dance, but my first involvement in a production wasn’t until 7th grade. One of the teachers who did theatre outside of school decided to direct a play version of A Tale of Two Cities. I auditioned and of course figured I had a chance at the lead role. And of course I didn’t get it and was crushed! I was cast as one of the dancers in one scene that included a party dance section. I was totally appalled that I had auditioned to act in a play and all of a sudden I was an unnamed dancer in one scene! I told that director in no uncertain terms that I was not interested.

I don’t remember how or why, but he must have realized how passionate I was about acting, because he asked me to be his assistant director. I accepted that role, and I remember running a couple of rehearsals and blocking a courthouse scene. Then, a role opened up that he hadn’t cast (another small group of students was actually writing the script themselves, adapting it from the book), and he asked me to play the part. It was one of the witnesses in the court room scene, a slightly sleazy waitress (?) who continually said, “Dahhhling!” And that was my very first theatre role. We must have performed the play sometime near my birthday, because I remember my English class all saying, “Happy Birthday, Dahhhling!”

Then, in 8th grade, a couple of students wanted to direct A Christmas Carol, and I was cast as the Ghost of Christmas Past, which was one of the larger roles, so I was very pleased!

At that point, I had totally caught the theatre bug, and I wanted more! I took a drama class in school that year, but it was huge and filled with really outgoing, loud kids, so I kind of blended into the background. So that summer, before I started high school, I began to look at theatre opportunities outside of school.

I auditioned for a summer production of Oliver, which was being produced by a local theatre group called Seaglass Performing Arts. I didn’t know it at the time, but the lady who ran the group and usually directed the shows was a complete terror. Had she directed the show, I might have never pursued theatre, but luckily she had hired a different director for Oliver. I was old enough to be cast in the adult ensemble, rather than being one of the kids, and it was a great first community theatre experience. The show was very professional, and it gave me a great introduction to how theatre should be done. I ended up playing the part of the milkmaid in “Who Will Buy” which was a great singing part, as well as being part of a short dancing foursome during one of the dance numbers (I have a picture- I will try to find it!), and I even got a speaking role at some point during the rehearsal process. I got to play a dying old lady and die onstage. It was integral to the plot. :)

Nearing the end of that show, I went to an audition for Wait Until Dark, at another theatre company, and got the only young role in that show. The character is supposed to be 9, I was 14, and we changed the line in the show to say that I was 12. Later on I found out that I was the only young person to audition for the show, but the director assured me I would have gotten the part anyway. At least that’s what he said. This show was also a fantastic experience for me, as I learned more about acting, being onstage, and what goes into a production.

Then I started high school, and I was accepted into the audition-only choir, which helped to validate to me that I was actually a good singer. I didn’t know whether I had a chance or not, but I sang in that group all four years of high school, and it was a huge part of my identity at the time. I had learned to read music in middle school, and then that teacher left during my 8th grade year, but I will forever be grateful to him for teaching me how to read music. He was replaced by the choir teacher who I then had throughout high school, who was a huge influence on my life and singing/performing career. Singing in the KHS Chamber Choir was definitely one of the best experiences of my life so far.

Some of my classmates made a fuss about how freshmen didn’t usually get into the drama classes at the high school, so they then were accepted into the drama classes. I didn’t make a fuss, so I didn’t take any drama classes my freshman year. However, I did get cast in the musical, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as one of the courtesans, and later more specifically as one of the Geminae. One of the other girls and I, once we dressed alike and wore the same makeup and jewelry, looked remarkably alike! It was a small part, but there were a lot of people who auditioned who were not cast, including one of my upperclassman friends who informed me that “freshmen get the small roles.” My high school did two plays and a musical each year, and as a freshman I was not cast in either of the plays, much to my distress!

At that point, and probably earlier, I had made the decision that performing was what I wanted to do with my life, and that summer I auditioned for a summer stock theatre in Berwick, ME, called Hackmatack Playhouse. Working there changed my life forever.

To be continued…

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Leslie July 21, 2011 - 10:37pm

Love the pic! Love that your going to blog more. It’s definitely hard some days… even weeks but it a lot of fun connecting with people like yourself with the same goals. That makes it worth it. I love reading about theatre, keep it coming =)

rachbug July 27, 2011 - 9:39pm

Fun to read about your acting/singing history. I have been just living vicariously through my son being in Oliver this summer. Maybe someday I’ll be able to jump onto the community theatre scene. -Sigh-