Flashback to May 1971 — and my only leading role: Narrator in the Park Avenue kindergarten play about counting. That’s me in the floral dress with all the smocking, my hair styled with the help of a night spent sleeping on curlers and pin curls.
I don’t actually remember much about the day. A later play at King Street School, in which I played the Polka Dot Prince in a performance of the Lollipop Princess, made a bigger impression. Might have been because Mom spent days sewing multicolored felt discs onto my tights and leotard.
Also stuck firmly in my mind’s eye:
- the all-school show we did for the bicentennial
- the talent show in which I got to sing “Old Woman, Old Woman” with this now-famous guy
- summer theater productions (Indian in “Peter Pan” anyone?)
- my turns in middle school as Ms. Lynch in “Grease” and Mrs. McAfee “Bye, Bye Birdie” – even channeling Dolly Parton (being an early bloomer with fair-to-middling acting chops generally landed me “more mature” roles; I did need sweatsocks for the Dolly Parton role, however)
- and countless dance recitals, performances in church choir, band and choral concerts, color guard competitions
Oh, I was never headed for fame and fortune, but it was always great fun to nail a routine or elicit a laugh — things I occasionally am able to manage now as a Jazzercise instructor. 😉
Catherine did not inherit my love of performing. Like Basil, she prefers to fly under the radar, artistically speaking.
A disastrous experience at age 3 set the stage. It was the night of her first dance recital and she fairly vibrated with excitement. She had practiced the moves to “Frosty the Snowman” all day, raced through dinner to get into her Christmas dress, sat still while I tied a green satin ribbon and pinned it to the collar.
At the auditorium, we watched with anticipation as the bigger kids had their turns, and then it was time.
Catherine got on stage, took one look at the audience looking back at her and promptly burst into tears. Somewhere in a box of dusty videotapes we have the whole thing on film. All the other kids dancing to Frosty. And Catherine sobbing.
She never performed in anything less than a large band or choral group again.
Until this weekend.
Imagine my surprise when she came home a couple of weeks ago and announced she was dancing in SRO, the senior class show that has been a tradition since before Basil graduated from Greenwich High in 1973.
Last night’s performance went well; tonight is the big cast dinner and show; and tomorrow is closing night.
Finally, she’s experiencing the fun, camaraderie and teamwork — the sense of community that kept me coming back again and again.
Break a leg, Catherine!