Early this year, my theater director from high school contacted me about being in a musical theater revue for current students and alumni. Of course I jumped at the chance. I’m one of the few theater alumni in the area, and we’re a close-knit bunch for the most part. I’d be coming back to perform before a scholarship was awarded in honor of a fellow alumni who had unexpectedly passed away.
We had our first rehearsal last week, and it was so odd being back in the building where I went to high school. So little has changed, and yet so much has changed for me. It’s like walking down the hall with my former self, because I can hear her thoughts echoed in my brain, but have so much to share with her about life outside those walls.
Saturday morning, the whole “cast” met for a rehearsal in the morning to choreograph the two group numbers that we’ll be sharing the stage for. It was… early. The current high school students and recent grads arrived bubbling with energy and enthusiasm. Those of us that were a few years removed arrived clutching mugs of coffee and squinting at the joyous reunions of those who had just seen each other in class the day before.
Disclaimer: If you watch any of the televised “talent” shows, you’re aware of the phenomenon of the “triple threat”- someone that can sing, dance and act with equal ability. Though I admit to being a good musician, and a passable actor, I Can. Not. Dance. With a lot of rehearsal and repetition, I can pick up the moves and not be tripping over my feet by showtime. Style and panache? Nope. None of that.
Fortunately for me, our director knew how much (little) we were all capable of putting together in just a week’s time, and the dance moves are blissfully simple. It’s more “planned movement across the stage” with very little in the way of complicated steps and patterns. Even so, my friend from Singers and I were making faces and going cross-eyed at the fact that we were put in the front row.
And the people with the little tiny butts were in the back row. I’m just sayin.
Watching the current high school students was an experience. I couldn’t help but laugh at their enthusiasm and goofiness. I also saw some of them strutting around like they owned the stage, giving each other pointers. If I spent time with them every day, as a teacher, they’d drive me crazy. But they’d also keep me young.
I recognized the early signs of a Diva-in-Training, and didn’t envy them that. By the time I left high school, after a string of successes and lead roles, I felt on top of the world. A very short time at a competitive college with other students who had been the top of the class at their respective schools cured me of that disillusion.
It was almost a relief to be looking at them from the perspective that I now carry. It might be a little jaded, but I prefer to think of it as realistic. I got the opportunity to go the distance as a music major, but when it came to make the choice to pursue more education (translation: take on a buttload of debt for no guaranteed job and a life full of competing with other people) or be grateful and make a life for myself, I chose the latter. In some ways, it feels like admitting to myself that I’m not as driven as those others that moved on, or as talented. I’m ok with that.
Afterward, a group of us went out for lunch. Though some of us were practically strangers, theater people are a different breed. We immediately recognize some of our social awkwardness in each other, and respond in kind. There were ridiculous laughs, lots of sarcasm and hugs galore. The high schoolers were immediately pseudo-younger siblings, cracking us all up with their overuse of the word “like,” while we older folk threw innuendo around like it was our job.
Apparently I live under a rock, because I have been unaware of the “Silly Bandz” trend making its way through the underage population everywhere. One girl was dismayed by the fact, and insisted that I take one of hers. “Here, have a rhino. You have to start with an animal,” she insisted.
Later that day, when we stopped at a bakery to pick up some treats, the girl behind the register noticed my bracelet. She appeared to be in her early 20s, but squeaked “I have one too!” and removed the pink band in the shape of a diamond ring from her wrist.
I’ve been wearing the damn thing ever since. (And may pick up a bag to give out after the performance this Friday.) (Whaaat! They have princesses! And mermaids!)(Shuddup)