Theatre Through The Years

“Let’s start at the very beginning,
A very good place to start.
When you read, you begin with A B C
When you sing, you begin with Do, Re, Mi.”

These are lyrics from “Do-Re-Mi,” a song from “The Sound of Music,” and this is where I’m starting my editorial this week.

When I was very young, theatre was a very large part of my life, thanks to my elder cousin Jackie and her love of theatre. I have mentioned how much of an impact Jackie and theatre has had on me in other editorials I’ve written, but this one will go more in-depth. You will see why theatre means so much to me throughout all my years of performing and working on shows in many different aspects.

One of my favorite parts of theatre is that when you’re on stage, you aren’t yourself: you become your character and you are showing their lives, not your own. This also allows us to look at the world through a new set of eyes!

I have many memories within the theatrical world from when I was very young. The first one I’m going to mention is actually one that wasn’t even at a normal theatre, though it was a theatre that my brother, my cousins and I used every week:

Grandma’s house.

My cousin Jackie and I sort of took over what we would do when performing at Grandma’s house (as we were the older siblings) and our brothers both let us run with it. The first show we tried to do was Peter Pan, so Peter Pan has quite a love in my heart. We ended up doing the show so many times that we actually changed the name of it to Patricia Pan. As we grew and changed, Jackie and I decided that we would try to do a much more complicated show…

The Phantom of the Opera.

Crazy, right? I mean, we were kids: Jackie was a 9th grader at that point and I was in 7th, so what did we know about trying to do a show of that talent and ability level? At any rate, Jackie was practicing to be the Phantom and I was all excited to play Christine. We practiced and practiced, but that show never actually got shown to the family, as Jackie met Shawn (her boyfriend at the time, who is now her husband) and the years of theatre in Grandma’s basement sort of took a hiatus, in a way.

But this is also not where my life in the theatre stopped, so don’t worry!

I may be a little off in the order of the shows here, but in 5th grade, I was a nun in the musical “The Sound of Music,” which is the main reason I started this editorial with lyrics from it. “The Sound of Music” is one of the first shows I actually did on a real stage and I fell in love with it. I still laugh at my parents’ reactions to this little Jewish girl from New York playing a nun (this will repeat itself years later in 2006 when I reprised my role of a nun at my Temple’s production of “The Sound of Music”).

Around the same time, my brother and I were on stage together in “The King and I.” We both were children, and each of us had a bit of a quirk about us. Even to this day, we both have some hilarious memories regarding those quirks and the stage during this musical. As I’m writing this, I’m actually giggling at remembering how both my brother’s and my own “moms” in the play had to pull us away from the King of Siam—my brother with a lollipop in his hands and me with a book in mine. It kind of showed who we were with those quirks.  

Let’s fast forward a few years. You’d have seen me acting at the Cultural Arts Playhouse (which at the time was in Plainview, but is now in Syosset) as well as working there as an usher and helping out backstage in a number of capacities. There, I took acting classes and did shows with some people who have since become quite famous in their own right: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Marissa McGowan, Robert Anthony Jones, and even with a few famous Broadway stars (this I’ll discuss in another editorial, if I get permission). I’ve done a number of shows there, but a few have stuck out in my mind (in no particular order): “A Chorus Line,” “Newsies,” “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Evita,” “Assassins,” “Bat Boy,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Big,” and a number of others.

I will discuss shows I’ve done at the Cultural Arts Playhouse more in other editorials, but this is when I fell even more in love with theatre, and not just being on stage for it either. Any and every part of theatre was fascinating, how everything and everyone worked together in order to make something so special was remarkable… Lights, sound, stage management, costume people, child and animal wrangling (though mostly children), director, musical direction, choreographer… There are so many parts to getting a show up and running and I still think it’s amazing how it all mixes together to make something so perfect as theatre.

As I grew up, theatre became more and more important to me. High school brought choirs and musicals. There was “Damn Yankees,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “State Fair,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” and straight plays too. In doing all of these, I learned even more about theatre and my love for it only grew.

College strengthened that even more. I took theatre classes, joined the theatre honour society, and became a teacher through it all. It didn’t matter whether I was in front of a class, on stage or behind the scenes; I still grew for it and I’m happy I did. Theatre has helped me grow and I have grown with it, and that will only help me be the me who I want to be.

(Photo via IMDB)