Sunday, March 12, 2017
Today I am grateful for talent. I always have a little trepidation when I attend a high school play. Actually, I have some trepidation whenever I attend any play. It’s not that I don’t love theater. It’s that I love theater too much. I expect each and every production to blow me out of the box. Some do. Most don’t. With kids I can make huge allowances.
But I sure didn’t have to last night at my granddaughters high school production of “Gypsy”. Back in the day when I was auditioning, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” was my go-to audition piece. In my range, gutsy and sung by a strong bawdy woman, made it a natural choice. And I could belt when I had to.
I wondered if a young person, someone still in high school, would be able to understand the motivational intricacies of Mama Rose. Would she lead with only loud or would her sensitivity and the love of her kids and theater (equally) shine through.
I shouldn’t have worried. The girl who played Mama Rose was stand-out, knock-out, fantastic, totally in character every second, a seasoned performer. Every note, every nuance, every line was spot on. She nailed it! Really nailed it! “Gypsy” has a lot of great roles for women and everyone, including my granddaughter, did a wonderful job. But the show is driven by Mama Rose and there was no denying that she was the true shining star of the production.
Actors have to perform no matter what kind of trauma or sadness has occurred in their life. A billion years ago when I took acting classes, an instructor directed us to imagine the happiest time in our lives, something that made us laugh and feel more joyful that we thought possible. When we were euphoric, he gave us a tragic, serious monologue to perform. It was very difficult. Then he told us that our best friend had died a horrible, gruesome death and our heart was broken. When we had been sucked down the vortex of despair, he handed us a comedic monologue to perform.
These exercises are powerful lessons for probably more of us than just those who choose the stage. Don’t we all have to put on a mask from time to time, presenting on the outside something far different than what we feel on the inside? Sure we do. Sometimes. Hopefully not all the time.
But this girl. This beautiful, talented, fantastic Mama Rose, broke the mold not only on talent but also tenacity. Her dad died suddenly two months ago. She was in rehearsals for “Gypsy” and the show must go on. So she did. I would never had known that her world had been turned upside down. That’s more than talent. That’s a pro.