My mom took me to NYC for my 16th birthday to see three Broadway shows. It was my life goal and ambition to be on that stage working with that caliber of talent. I was so driven and motivated to be that good. In all my years I have never wanted anything as badly as I wanted a job on Broadway. It’s a little sad sometimes to think that I walked away from that dream but I don’t regret it. I remember the day I decided to quit. It was the end of my freshman year at UofM where I was a dance major, though I was 18 I felt really old, and worn out from the sort of people dancers must associate. A group of artists trying to work together aren’t always so nice. I remember slumping down and thinking I’d rather use my brain than my body and tryout having a normal life. It was scary because I had been involved in performing on stage since I was a little girl and I loved that feeling more than anything I knew. I wasn’t sure what would happen to me if I wasn’t preparing to perform. How would I express myself? Who was I? That was a scary departure.
I didn’t go back to the dance department, I enrolled as a psychology major and stayed in school in the summers so I could make up the lost credit and graduate in four years. That’s when I began running and took up fitness. Then I met Craig, and really fell in love for the first time in my life, and I experienced my first taste of that normal life I had imagined. But it still hurt when I saw performances, in that place in my heart where no one can understand unless they gave up the dream of the stage.
The first year of our marriage Craig’s parents took us to NYC to see Les Miserables. I was as nervous sitting there expecting the show as if I were stepping onto stage myself. At the theater all of my senses are in full gear and it is a time where I am completely entranced and happy in every moment of the performance. I wasn’t prepared for Les Mis. It has the best story of redemption with tension throughout of good versus evil. The singing is stunning. The staging and lighting is brilliant. It is so sad that in the beginning when Fontine dies in Valjean’s arms leaving behind a child I started to cry. Then more characters suffer and die which kept the waterworks pouring until I was quite uncontrollably sobbing. I was feeling miserables and inspired all at once. It was a cathartic cry.
I knew my heart was overwhelmed because I had just experienced the best show of my life, appreciated the talent, and felt the story so deeply that I might never be the same again. When the show let out we collected the family in the lobby and I was still sobbing, and Craig was confused trying to console me. His mom thought we had had a big fight! An old woman with black hair, a big nose, and too much makeup hobbled over to me and said, “dearie your mascara is all over your face”. All I could think was, “and why aren’t you crying? You must have a heart of stone.” No one in the family has forgotten my ridiculous emotional outburst at the theater, and no one will ever understand how much it meant to me to see that show, and how my heart had to finally accept I’d never be in one like that. I was so thankful at least to be able to see it if I couldn’t be in it.(sniffle, wipe)
Yesterday I took Kevin to see Les Mis at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio. It was the fourth time in my life to see Les Mis, and I knew not to wear mascara. Kevin is in his third year of theater and has signed up to participate in High School Theater, and he is a good actor at fourteen. We gave him tickets to see Les Mis for his Christmas present. He read Victor Hugo’s novel before seeing the show and he has grown up his whole life listening to the soundtrack, so he knew these songs but had never experienced them in context. Of course he loved it. He told me it was the best thing he’s ever seen. He couldn’t believe how amazing it was for all the live music, lights, staging, and actor’s to put it together so perfectly. We walked the riverwalk afterwards and chatted about all the story, the acting, the singing and the staging. He is intelligent in his thinking about adapting a book to stage or film so we mulled around that for a while. There was no end to how it influenced his thinking and how chatty it made him during dinner. And he teased me because I said I only cried six times. He did confess that he felt like crying when Marius was alone after the war wondering why he was alive and all of his friends had died. I think today I will begin playing the soundtrack for Kira so when she’s old enough she’ll be ready to see it. And I know for sure I’ll never be able to see that show without crying.