When I was small I would stand in front of the mirror along about Academy Award season, and practice giving my acceptance speech with a hairbrush as my microphone. I would thank everyone – my parents, my stuffed animals, my best friend, God – in a speech that went far beyond the thirty-second allotment.
I loved acting back then. In fourth grade I was the wicked fairy “Malificent” in Sleeping Beauty – which was a hoot, even though I had to get someone else to do my death scream. I could cackle evilly…but for some reason I could not scream. I performed in The Nutcracker a couple of years – once as the Mouseking himself (not sure why I got that part…perhaps because none of the boys wanted to wear tights?), and in 8th grade I took a turn in a video my youth group made after which someone said, “I didn’t know you were such a ham!” I basked in that praise for many a long day.
It is to my great sorrow that I have no permanent record of those shows. Just think of the laughs it would bring my children!
My acting opportunities fell away after that, though I did join – and somehow lettered in –Speech and Drama Club my senior year, which was fun.
Then came the acting desert that was my twenties and thirties.
By the time I was forty, acting had become a distant memory – one that I gave zero thought to ever resurrecting. And then along came Beauty and the Beast, here in Worthington, last summer. Our daughter desperately wanted to be a part of the musical and they needed more adults so that the village wouldn’t be populated entirely by orphans, and my acting career was renewed.
And so was my realization that, though I may have practiced my Oscar acceptance speech all those years ago, I am never going to win any awards.
Which is fine.
Now, a year later, I’m looking at opening night of The Music Man, in which I play – as hammed-up as possible – a “Grecian Urn” lady and I hope fervently that our director isn’t disappointed that he cast me in this role.
It’s stressful! Not only do I have to remember stuff – lines, movement, the right shoes with the right costume – but I had to watch my husband shave off his beard for his role, I have to remove my wedding ring, and I have to put up with my husband “kissing” my friend Julie.
I tease about this kissing thing a lot because that’s how I deal with stress. I laugh it off. Truly – though I’m not sure our director believes me – the kissing scene is fine with me. It’s acting. I just can’t not tease about this because I’m incapable of sitting aside with my mouth closed. I like attention so I voice my opinion.
This, according to our director, makes me “high maintenance” as an actress.
The repercussions of this revelation are still resounding through my brain.
Am I “high maintenance” as a wife? As a mother? As a friend? Hmmmm…. I think, like Scarlet O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow.
All I really know is that, with my entire family in the play, it’s a great family bonding thing. It’s also a great way to exercise my acting chops. Or perhaps exorcise, as the case may be, because, after this summer I think I’m ready to retire.
The trouble is, I still have that Oscar speech rolling around in my brain and I’d hate to die without ever giving it.
The truth is, it’s all exceedingly fun (albeit exhausting), but I think that I am finally able to admit to myself that I do better behind a keyboard than behind the footlights.
And, while I may be willing to retire my acting career, I’ll never retire as a writer.
PS – here’s a link to a “sneak peak” video about the performance! http://www.dglobe.com/event/article/id/58930/