Friday, April 8, 2011
"The opening when your heart beats like a drum..." -Annie Get Your Gun
It's not nerves rattling through me, but complete anticipation and excitement. I'm about to leave Emma Catherine behind and become someone entirely new, a character I've gotten to know well throughout the past three months and am fully going to step into tonight as I zip up my cowgirl boots and set my straw hat in the center of my head. Tonight I'm Winnie Tate, a headstrong romantic who's fallen for a man her sister despises. Tonight I'm going to win the man, then lose the man, then win him again. I'm going to sing and dance my way to that happy ending and final bow. And I'm going to do it all over again tomorrow.
Throughout the years, I've taken on many personalities besides my own. I've been a poor boy living in an orphanage, and by the second act become a little girl receiving the coveted rose at the end of "Who Will Buy?". I've been a greedy, self-centered rat with a big appetite. I've been a street urchin, a peasant girl falling for the rich city boy, the ugliest of ducklings, the prettiest of Greasers, a French feather duster, a little redhead with "A Hard Knock Life", a young child possessed by witchery, an extravagant actress willing to do anything for the lead, and a beautiful cowgirl just looking for love.
I can't tell you in one word why I love this feeling so much. It's the scattered cast members rushing to help each other with their costume changes. The hurried repetition of lines as you touch up your lipstick during intermission. The laughter of an audience taking the place of the empty seats you've told that joke to a thousand times. It's getting your hair caught in props and improvising when your castmate misses a cue.
There's nothing quite like stepping into the spotlight and knowing that you've got a hundred people staring back at you, wondering what you're going to say, or rather, what your character is going to say. There's nothing like reciting out that one line you blundered through for weeks and finally getting it perfect. Nothing like hitting the last note of your solo and hearing the applause echo through the crowded hall to you until it's all you can hear. Nothing like shaking the hands of people you hardly know and hearing that, in some small way, you've touched them.