Two days after I wrote about Guidepost 10, Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting go of Cool and in Control, I auditioned for a local production of the Andrew Lippa musical BIG FISH. Last spring, I auditioned for the first time in ten years. I always HATED auditioning. My anxiety got the best of me. The majority of work I ever got was from people seeing me perform or reel submissions. I thought it might be better to audition with my husband “behind the table”. Boy was I wrong! Having Oliver on the panel made my anxiety go through the roof and I swore to never EVER do it again.
And then along swam a BIG FISH. The role was challenging. The songs beautiful. And the story? One you only get to tell once in a lifetime. I put aside my fear and anxiety to go for it because if I didn’t do it I’d regret not having tried.
Long story short, I got the female lead! For the first two weeks post “getting the call” I would cry out of overwhelming joy that I was about to start a rehearsal process for the first time in over a decade. I was thrilled at the prospect of working with what promised to be a wonderfully talented and fun cast. I was also terrified by the “who do you think you are?” gremlins that came into my head every time I listened to any of my songs.
For three years I didn’t sing a note. XN took it away from me. My singing, to him, was painful and unlistenable. My body was fat and disgusting. I wasn’t good enough or capable enough to do anything. Lucky for me, I married a man who brought music back into my life. He brought my confidence back with his undying support of anything I set out to do. And maybe more importantly than any of the rest, he is so proud of me. Yes, he tells me he is proud of me, but he shares that pride with everyone. He is not afraid to say “that is my wife and these are the reasons she is fabulous.” In fact, you’d be hard pressed to get him to be quiet about it and that has made a world of difference in how I see myself.
We opened the show last week and it has been a real struggle. The last time I did this it was my job. The last time I did this I was in my early twenties without a child or husband, mortgage, home or job to attend to. The last time I did this I’d BEEN doing it nonstop for years, not trying to bounce back. All this and multiple injuries have more than once had me thinking “what the hell did I get myself into?”
What did I get myself into? I got myself into a group of people with a zest for life and story-telling that I have found unparalleled anywhere else. I have found a group of people who have embraced vulnerability like their lives depend on it. I got myself evenings full of laughter, song and dance. Yes, even dance! I’ve seen my five-year-old son thrive in a creative environment that didn’t tell him he wasn’t welcome, but that took him in and said “this is what we’re doing. Do you want to be a part of it?” I found that a part of me I thought was dead just needed to be awakened by something bigger than myself.
Tomorrow we will close and I will experience the same feelings of grief and loss that come with closing any show. But tomorrow’s closing means so much more. In every cast there is some horribly annoying personality or some douchebag that you look forward to not having to deal with anymore. Not in this cast. I am so grateful for the memories that we have made together. This company has given so much to me and my family and I will be forever indebted to you all.
For the last two months, I have been reminded why relearning Guidepost 10 needs to be at the top of my priorities because laughter, song, and dance are such a deeply rooted part of my soul. I am eternally grateful to our director for taking a chance on me and pushing me to be more than I thought I was capable of. I am grateful to my stage family for all of the fun and tears we’ve shared. Most of all, I have to thank my incredible husband, Oliver , whose love and support has never faltered and who’s belief in me has helped me to believe in myself again.