So Much Drama, So Little Time
May 15th, 2016
My oldest daughter is a theater buff. Ever since she was little, she’s had an affinity for live performances. When she was four, we took her to a production of the Nutcracker Ballet. I had braced myself for wiggles and boredom, possibly even a hasty and embarrassed exit with a shrieking child tucked under my arm. Boy was I wrong. She sat riveted, absolutely entranced for the entire production. When the lights came up and the dancers came forward to take their bows, she burst into tears for reasons she couldn’t put words to.
The next spring, the older elementary students at her school produced a small play. It wasn’t fancy – a twenty minute rendition of the Emperor’s New Clothes produced with minimal props in the school lunchroom. Her preschool class attended the dress rehearsal and when I picked her up from school, she greeted me in a panic, demanding that we return that evening to watch the production again at the ‘public’ performance for the students’ families. I’m pretty sure we were the only people in the audience not related by blood to one of the young actors.
I’m not completely sure what it is that speaks to her, but I think she’s drawn to the simple magic of theater. The transformation that takes place when ordinary people don costumes and makeup and walk onto the stage as someone else. At seven, my daughter is a dreamer, and she’s an ideal audience member because she eagerly suspends disbelief and throws herself into the experience.
Her favorite part of any show is the chance to meet the actors or dancers afterwards. She immediately becomes shy in the presence of their greatness, but she wants to see them close up every time. Her favorite babysitter played the part of Jasmine in a youth production of Aladdin a few years ago and by the look on her face, you’d have thought my daughter was meeting a goddess in the flesh.
I recently took her to the West T. Hill production of Fiddler on the Roof, Junior. One of her classmates was in the chorus and we wanted to show our support. The storyline was almost out of range for her, even in its simplified form, but she didn’t care. She was mesmerized, holding my hand tightly and sitting bolt upright the entire time. She loved the singing and the dancing and she clapped until her hands were red at the end.
The moment we left the theater, she demanded to know if there were additional shows. We’d gone on a Friday night and there were two remaining productions. She had to go back. I bought the last two tickets to the sold-out Sunday matinee. They weren’t even together – she had to sit alone on the other side of the theater – but she didn’t care. She didn’t just want to see it again. She needed to.
As a parent, it’s a wondrous thing to watch your child love something with that kind of intensity. Her joy brings me joy far beyond the regular pleasure I also take in live theater. Next week, find out what happens when a theater-lover has the chance to take to the stage herself…