When I was a kid, I dreamed of being on Broadway. This was back when a musical theater dream wasn’t cool. Back before Glee or Smash or American Idol or X-Factor or any of those talent-elevating shows that allowed theater and performance geeks to step out of their shells and assume their rightful place among other kids with special talents and interests and find each other.
I used to live for the summer. Eve that’s when I went to camp and where I found people like me. Stagedoor Manor was an amazing place where you could spend your mornings in classes and your afternoons and evenings in rehearsals. It was a home away from home that taught me more than how to Pas De Bourree and introduced me to improv, but I’ll get into that more in another post. It was also a significant investment for my parents, on top of NYC private school, but my father believed so strongly in the need to nurture and invest in the “creative self” that he made sure I never missed a single summer. This ended up being money in the bank for me.
I won’t say that at Stagedoor everyone got a a chance to play a lead role. They didn’t. I started out desperately perusing musical theater and got progressively better parts and even landed a coveted callback to the elite Cabaret two years in a row, but my dancing was not even passable and my singing never quite found itself. But acting was something I could totally do. So my last summer at Stagedoor I said a sad goodbye to pursuing a lead or supporting role in a musical and did only “straight” plays–what they called works with no singing or dancing. And I had a blast! I got amazing roles (the lead image is a cast picture from one of the productions we did that summer, I think it was Inherit The Wind), I pushed myself and I found my niche. I have some of the most beautiful letters my father ever wrote me from this time in my life and learned a very important lesson: sometimes in order to reach for the next opportunity, you have to let go of what you think you have. And even before that, what I’ve learned is…you can’t hold on and let go at the same time.