When was the last time you sat in a theater and cried?
When was the last time you sat in a theater and laughed?
When was the last time you sat in a theater and allowed yourself to be taken into a story?
When was the last time you sat in a theater and watched a live show?
Theater has been a part of my life since I auditioned for the WASHS All-School Production of Meet Me in St. Louis during my junior year. I wasn’t any good. I had no stage presence. I could carry a tune but didn’t have enough confidence to sing a solo. I was awkward and self-conscious, but something drew me to those auditions. I landed a part in the ensemble with my best friends. Despite the fact that we were only in group numbers, we had the time of our lives. The following year I returned for Oklahoma – as a chorus member who was a little more confident (maybe). At any rate, I remember high school musical productions with a smile in my heart.
When I traveled to Lebanon Valley College to major in English, I returned to the stage not in musicals, but in campus theater productions such as Brighton Beach Memoirs and Sylvia. I loved these endeavors so much that I picked up a minor in theater.
Yes, theater, acting, musicals – all of them have stayed with me through the years.
So in 2014 when Trinity Players announced auditions for the Disney Revue, I knew my daughters needed to be a part of it. Nora was 9 and Eve was 5 – they each sang songs from Frozen like they were Elsa and Anna in the flesh. I also sang, not because I was any more confident than I was as a high school junior, but because I wanted to be with my girls.
Ever since then the Trinity Players community theater group has been a regular part of our lives. The girls have been in musicals and plays alike, including The Secret Garden, Seussical, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Along the way, I have played bit parts as well, giving us a way to explore theater together and also gain our own sense of confidence.
Unfortunately, the Pandemic brought theaters and live shows to a close for quite some time. The last Trinity Players production was in December 2019.
That is, until this past weekend.
Trinity Players took advantage of Music Theater International’s All Together Now, a global event celebrating live theater that was available for organizations to perform free of charge over the weekend of Nov. 12-15. My daughter Eve (now 12) was part of a cast of 16 incredibly talented individuals. From the opening number on Friday evening until the closing number on Sunday afternoon, my weekend was filled with nostalgia for all that theater has been in our lives: an outlet for self-reflecting, a medium for understanding others, an avenue for exploring relationships, and a sneak peek for imagining other lives.
Not only that, this weekend allowed me to truly appreciate the way theater has shaped my daughters. Both Nora and Eve have gained theater families full of adults who have shown them it’s ok to be themselves, it’s ok to be different, it’s ok to tap into talents others may shy away from. These individuals have never made my daughters feel anything but special, talented, and truly loved. They have encouraged my girls not only on stage but also in life. They have shown up when they weren’t expected and have offered hugs of acceptance and understanding. They have been role models; they have been coaches; they have been friends; they have been real.
For that, I will be eternally grateful.
As we start to open our world back to live events – to live theater and live music – may we each remember to take a minute to stop and appreciate the way that these events unite us as human beings.
Yes, music and theater really are the languages of humanity.