Performing

Summer With Sondheim

As the girl in the rags received her applause, she realized something very important…

Cinderella never needed a prince, she just needed confidence.

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Hello friends, I am back at the keys today typing out a post that has been marinating in my mind for at least a month, but I just couldn’t seem to get dinner on the plate, if you know what I mean.  I will just start by telling you the reason for this delay… Stephen Sondheim.  After being cast as Cinderella in a local production of Into the Woods, I became extremely familiar with the name of this man who would be terrorizing me with crazy high notes and intimidating timing for three months straight.  Sondheim is extremely talented, but his work is challenging, especially for a self-conscious girl who auditioned for a step-sister and for the first time in her life, landed a lead instead.

So, I wanted to share a few of the things that I learned in my summer with Sondheim:

  1. Don’t Say ‘Can’t’

We are all guilty of this at some point in our lives.  We except limitations that other people or our own fears place upon us, without even trying to see if we can push past them.  For example, I have been classified as an Alto in every choir I’ve been in, so in my mind, I probably can’t really hit high notes very well.  I also have never been very rhythmical, so timing has never been my specialty.  To top things off, I have never been good at auditioning, and I have had crippling stage fright when it comes to singing in front of people (it’s funny how that affects me so differently from acting).  Despite all of these negative mindsets, with an abundance of prayer and discipline, I was able to survive the audition and all of the rehearsals and performances singing in front of people, I expanded my range in order to hit some of the notes required by my character, and I worked so hard on my timing that by the end of the show some of the other cast members actually told me that they relied on me to know when to come in!  Now, I don’t say absolutely any of this to brag on myself, but truly to brag on God for giving me courage and for teaching me that through Christ (Philippians 4:13) and discipline (Hebrews 12:11) we can accomplish more than we ever imagined.  Just remember, that small progress is still progress, sometimes it feels like you can’t possibly reach your goals, but tiny bricks build large buildings – so don’t give up!

  1. Be the Change You Wish to See (Gandhi)

Doing a stint with a show in any degree, whether it’s high school, church, community, or professional, you work so closely with people for that amount of time that they become what’s known as your “theatre family.”  It’s something that I find amazing every time; that these people can literally be complete strangers to me on the first read through of a script, but by the last curtain call, I feel as though they were always meant to be in my life.  You laugh about your mistakes together, learn new skills together, eat loads of unhealthy foods together, etc.  But like with any family, that much time spent together on top of a lot of stress and lack of sleep can cause tensions to run high at times.  I’ve heard it said that performers are also the most insecure people you will ever meet, and often this is hidden behind false confidence but appears in criticizing others.  I have unfortunately seen a lot of back-biting and catty conversations in my many years working with different areas of theatre, but I have also seen extreme amounts of love, passion, and encouragement.  I don’t think I could’ve survived this show without those positive things from other cast mates this time.  I came in the rookie with a lot less experience than many of the other cast members, and instead of them pointing up their nose and watching me fail, I had so many of them encouraging me and giving me compliments that gave me the confidence boost I needed.  With that being said, no matter what field you’re in, or who you’re around, you can be that boost to someone else – instead of being critical, give them that much needed compliment today.

  1. There is Joy in the Journey

This opportunity was not what I expected, but I’m so glad I was able to partake in it, even for a small amount of time.  Sometimes, especially in America, we think we have to plan our lives so strictly and rush around in order to truly “get to the top” or “be a success” and then we can enjoy our lives, but what we don’t realize is that along the way, we’re actually missing out on our lives.  We must strive to find the beauty in every day, be willing to take detours, and accept God’s good gifts to us!

 

Now as summer turns to autumn, I send away my Sondheim script with a hearty thank you for all the lessons learned, as well as, a sigh of relief for getting to catch up on some much needed rest!

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“Let the moment go, don’t forget it for a moment though!”

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