Lately I've been feeling a little overwhelmed.
I still cannot believe that I am playing the role of Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. ME! Playing the role of Ann-Margret fame. I am the one singing, "How Lovely to be a Woman!"
When the 1995 TV remake of the movie debuted, I remember holing myself up in my dad's office in front of the TV and VCR after school, watching the musical numbers of the show and daydreaming about performing.
Every time I enter a scene and take my place on the stage set, I experience something almost out-of-body. I feel like that little dreaming 15-year old I once was, dancing around my bedroom and singing, heart full of hope and wonder and innocence.
I get to share the stage with so many wonderful and talented people - the kind of people I have been watching for years and wishing I could be. And there I am standing next to them...I am one of them! I look at all of the dedicated, hard workers in our bursting-with-energy ensemble and think, " What made me the lucky one this time? All of these people are so amazing."
I don't think I will ever forget that moment Elise (stellar choreographer) called and shared with me that they wanted me to play the role of Kim. I giggled, I jumped up and down, I screamed with delight, I ran around aimlessly, I pounced, I got ice cream! When I had showed up at auditions a few days earlier, Vic (director's husband) asked me what roles I wanted to read for and my answer was (seriously), "uhmm....I'm not sure...I'm too blonde to be Rosie, too old to be Kim, and too young to be one of the other characters....Gloria, maybe?" His response after giving me the once over? "I dunno, they may want you to read for Kim." Then he handed me the lines and sent me on stage. Callbacks were ridiculously fun a couple days later. I left knowing I'd given them "all I got" and honestly believing one of the other girls was better for the part. (I'm glad to say the terrific "other girl" did get a part absolutely perfect for her)
We still have four shows left and I find myself already on the verge of tears for the night this amazing dream come true comes to a close. For the night I share the stage with that wonderful cast one last time.
Everything about this experience has changed who I am. I always thought I could sing well enough, but I was not an actress. I'd tell people I wasn't doing shows because I couldn't act. Now, here I am - playing a role half my age. Ends up the reason I couldn't is because I wasn't trying - I was afraid. My friend Leah, accompanist Tim, and director Wendy in "Nunsense" helped me realize last year that I was capable of more than I perceived. Tim currently plays my father, Harry McAfee, and constantly greets me with, "How are you, amazing actress?" He is always letting me know of the latest auditions and how wonderful he thinks I would be in this part or that. He doesn't know, but I just want to bust with joy and humility every time he says those words. Quite often I think he couldn't possibly be talking to me.
I've gone from "I can't" to "I think I can" to "I know I can."
Our director, Michelle Groves, has this talent that I can't quite put into words. I never feel corrected or scolded, instead she makes me feel like a piece of clay that she is molding into a treasure. Through all the exhaustion of 5-hour rehearsals, 6 days a week, she helped me feel as if I were playing every minute. On opening night she said she had one note for me. As I stood there waiting, she gave me the hugest hug and said, "Your only note is, I am so proud of you. You have grown so much in this part. That was the best 'Lovely to be a Woman' so far." I want to do my absolute best just to make her proud, to prove to her that she made the right decision.
That thought brings me back to the rest of the cast. I am so blessed to be on stage with them and want to improve every day to respect their talent, to live up to their standards to prove that I am worthy of sharing that stage with them.
Saturday morning after opening night, I sat on my bed gazing at the trees and mountains, listening to the babbling brook, and reflecting. There are so many things I wish I could tell my 15-year old self (which I will make another post about).
On top of all of this, I have the most supportive friends who have arranged different groups to come to each night of the show thus far.
This is all so surreal:-)