9 to 5 The Musical

It's the day after the show closing. Not time for the post show depression to set in (though I admit there have already been some tears). I'm just exhausted. But, I'm still glowing from the whole experience. I cannot adequately put into words just how amazing this journey has been for me, but I'm going to try. 

I've always enjoyed music and theater of all kinds. I remember the one family vacation we went on when I was a little girl was to Branson, MO and my favorite thing we did was go to a show. I've enjoyed every show I've ever seen whether it be on Broadway, in a high school, church, an amusement park, or a make shift stage. Every show I have ever seen in my entire life, I sat in the audience wondering what it would be like to actually be the one on stage. 

The last several years, working with FRC, my love for theater has grown immensely - especially after experiencing JTF for the first time last year. Admittedly, when it comes to my own musical abilities, I often lack confidence. Thankfully, God has put some amazing people in my life that have encouraged me and taught me some great things! I also realized after working with some phenomenal kids who also struggle with believing in themselves, that I must practice what I preach. If I can help them see the God-given talents that they have and encourage them to use them, why can't I do the same? 

I've sat in on numerous auditions over the years.  I know how difficult it is to cast people.  I know how exciting it is from a production standpoint to envision something and have it come to life before your eyes.  I love the creative process.  I just really wanted the chance to experience it  from the performer's perspective - to be the one responsible for bringing joy and laughter to the audience. (I did dance some in our church's Christmas production I choreographed a few years ago, just to clarify.)

I'm my own worst enemy. I've never felt good enough and have struggled with self image as an overweight adult.  But, I decided I was being a hypocrite to those kids (and my own) telling them to work hard for their dreams while I cowered behind my own.  You've got to be in it to win it, right?  I finally decided it was my time to take the leap and give it a shot.  Seriously, what did I have to lose? I was going to walk into a theater where I did not know a single person.  I was going to give it my all and they were either going to love me or hate me.  I truly had no idea if I could act or not.  I've sang my whole life - but never a Broadway tune.  I really had no expectation going in.

Heading into my first audition!
So, how did my first audition go? I walked in and immediately met this spunky 69 year old lady named Ivana who was auditioning for, I believe, her 8th show at the Holly.  She and another lady, Alicia, welcomed me in and encouraged me throughout the entire process.  I also met this sweet young lady named Emily who was also auditioning for her first show.  They all helped put my mind at ease and made me feel comfortable.  We each sang our 16 bars.  Then this amazing choreographer, Joe, jumped on stage and kicked our butt in a dance audition.  I was NOT expecting that.  LOL  I was having a good hair day so I felt good.  Ha!!! I think I kept up pretty well with those youngin's, Cole & Amberly.  After that we did some cold reads which were super fun - but the entire time I kept thinking, "I have NO clue how this is going.  I either look like a complete fool or I'm blending in ok."  Seriously, no idea!  Then a new crew of people came in.  I was a wee bit star struck when I saw Carla come up on stage and read.  I had just seen her play the lead in Cabaret a week or so before (along with our assistant director, Jesse).  They were amazing!  Then this kid, Austin, gets up on stage and knocks my freakin' socks off! I laughed so hard I cried.  Later I would find out that "kid" was an almost 31 year old guy who would become a lifelong friend.  I loved every second of the audition process and watching everyone do their thing.  

The next day I received an email from director, Linda, for a callback for the parts of Violet, Roz, & Doralee (I tried out for Judy fully hoping for an ensemble part).  I was ecstatic!! Callbacks were a blast!! When I realized I could make people laugh, I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest.  Going into callbacks, I was still thinking, "maybe this means I'm at least going to be a part of the show." I left there thinking, "I like these people.  A lot. If I'm not in this show at all, I'm going to be very disappointed."  Wednesday morning I was sitting in Chosen practice watching my phone every time it lit up with an email.  We were in the middle of singing a song when I saw I had an email from Linda. Mid song, I couldn't help myself (sorry, Kelly) I opened it up and the tears started.  It was so surreal to me.  I had no idea how my life was about to change!

We immediately started rehearsals and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single one of them.  I felt like each one of them pushed me outside of my comfort zone.  I was dancing and physically being pushed like I had not in a long time.  I had given up on taking care of myself and this was showing me just how much and forcing me to get active again.  Going from teacher to student was mentally difficult, but I believe it's going to make me a better teacher and choreographer.  I had to throw my stage fright out the window.  I had to learn and sing my part every time.  No playing around. No time to get nervous - just do it (that would be a great slogan for something).  I was incredibly fearful of memorizing so many lines.  Could I even do it? I don't remember what I had for lunch yesterday.  But, when you have 202 lines in a show (not including the songs) - you just have to work that much harder to get it done.  Character development? What's that?  Oh, I need to become Violet. What is she feeling? What are her mannerisms? How does she interact with other characters? I'm pretty sure she was still developing this past weekend!  There were a few nights that I went into rehearsals after crying most of the day from just having a crappy day.  Within minutes, those feelings were gone and I found myself doubled over in laughter.  Was everything always sunshine and roses? Nope! We are working with human beings.  There's going to be occasional conflicts. Putting a show together is difficult. Learning can be frustrating.  Was it worth it? You bet it was!

First Read Through
                                First Read Through

Music Rehearsal at the Annex 
Getting some stage time practice
"You said it, sister!" Jen, made the best Margaret!

Then came Tech Week.  I've been on the production side of this, but it was about to get real as a performer! Entrances, exits, costume changes (um, really quick changes), props, set pieces, scene changes, a live band.... can I remember it all?  Preview night it seemed to finally come together. Perfect? No. Good? Yes! Then OPENING NIGHT! Wow, that was fun! The second night was probably my personal worst performance.  I knew the first two rows were mostly my friends and I let the nerves kick in a little bit, but it was still incredible.  My favorite night was probably the last Saturday.  The energy just felt so high.  I had a lot of close friends in the audience. It was a super fun night.  Sunday was bitter sweet.  It was an amazing show, but I did find myself a few times thinking, "This is the last time I get to...".  Seeing the set come down made me sad.  Saying goodbye to my new friends made me sadder.

Change It! My girls love Taylor (black dress). Mollie was awesome!

Roz and I had a special relationship!

"We're not taking orders from you anymore!"
One of the Boys

I believe the Hospital was the most fun scene for me.

My heart is so full and grateful not only for the opportunity to live out a life long dream, but for the outpouring of love and support from friends and family.  I had over 100 people come out to the shows over the 3 weeks of performances.  Friends and family from as far as Texas (and Tennessee) came out.  I don't think I've ever felt more loved in my entire life!  I know it hasn't always been easy for my own family.  Two nights a week I didn't get to tuck my girls in bed (more nights during Tech and performances).  With Derek traveling so much, my in-laws really stepped up and helped with the girls.  Thank you for making the sacrifices for me.

My BFF's from Knoxville - Jenny & Nikki.

Let's not forget the broken hand.

My girls!
Some of my precious cheer & drama girls.

Through this whole process I have discovered some great things about myself.  1. Life doesn't end at 40 - it's just beginning! You're never too old (or young) to reach for your dreams or try something new. 2. Doggone it, I am good enough. I may not get every role I ever audition for, but I can do whatever I put my mind to.  Not everyone will like me, but somebody will. 3. Theater is awesome and I want it in my life! This is a new season for me and I want to embrace it as much as I can. 4. I am stronger than I think. Violet taught me so.

And, now I walk away with the greatest gifts of all - and one I wasn't even thinking about.  People. New friends. I didn't go into this thinking about relationships with people, but I'm sure walking away with some of the best. I could not imagine doing this show without any one of the amazing people in that cast and crew.  No future show will ever compare to this one.

The Diva script lady!

Wig time!
Jesse's in charge.

Katie rocked the black wig!
Violet and her man.
No, I wasn't drinking. Just high hair!

Roz finally got some love from Hart!
Alex came in at the end and rocked!

Dakota did my hair every single night!
He's amazing!!
My people! Maurice was a fantastic
Bob & Stage Manager.

I adore this guy! So much talent it's ridiculous!

                                             Judy, Violet, & Doralee

So, what's next? No idea! I had another audition on Saturday for an event.  You win some, you lose some. We'll just have to see how that one pans out. For now I'm going to get a little rest, go to our drama leadership planning this weekend for FRC, reflect more on 9 to 5 with smiles and tears and try not to get too depressed it's over but rejoice that it happened.  Wherever the Lord leads, I will go.


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