Every once in a while I get to share a moment with an audience member that I consider to be sacred. Yes, even in a crazy, sparkly, dance-party show like "Joseph."
As I was leaving the theatre tonight, there was a family waiting by the door, I waved at them and said "hi" and they started to tell me how much they enjoyed the show. I thanked them, and then their daughter/granddaughter very shyly shook my hand. I took a moment to ask her name, and talk to her about the show. After talking to her for a moment, another member of the family said "I don't think it is possible for you to understand how much this show has meant to us. We've been going through a really rough time as a family, and tonight our cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing." As I looked back at all the family members, they were nodding in agreement, and I could see the pain of whatever they are going through as a family on their faces. It was a special moment for me because it reminded me of why I do this. I love to perform! It is a rush and I love to sing and act, but these moments are what really keep me going.
I got emotional as I was driving home from the theatre as I thought about this family, and how grateful I am that I got to be a part of something, that even just for a moment helped them escape from the difficulty of their lives and find some joy. And then I started remembering other special moments that shaped my perspective on performing.
One of the most powerful was while I was working at Carriage House theatre in Cardston, Alberta. After a Saturday night performance we went out to greet as usual. While greeting, this elderly man in the lobby took my hand. With tears in his eyes he thanked me for my performance, and then proceeded to explain that he and his wife had driven quite a ways to see the shows. He told me his wife was going into the hospital on the following Monday to start a final treatment of chemo, and he wasn't sure if she was going to survive it. Because of this, they decided to take one final road trip with each other. They set out, not really sure where they were headed, and ended up in Cardston. They were just driving through, and they saw the marquee for our Thursday night show. They decided to go, and loved it so much they stayed in Cardston the entire weekend so that they could see all three shows. He cried as he thanked me for making what could be his last weekend getaway with his wife so memorable. I also cried.
I am currently finishing up my last bit of school at BYU where I have been studying Musical Theatre. It is so easy to get caught up in the "craft" and to get so nit-picky with myself. In fact, the pressure has been driving me crazy, and making me feel like I wouldn't mind just letting this whole thing go. But, these are the moments that matter. They transcend. This family didn't care if I was resonating properly, or if I was following my impulses completely, or how grounded I was, or any of the other myriad of things I get critiqued on every day at school. Those skills help improve the gift, but in the end, every performance is for the audience, it shouldn't ever be about ME! It is about the gift!
"Fame, if you win it,
comes and goes in a minute,
where's the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer,
someone to love is the answer."
"Make someone happy,
make just one someone happy,
and you will be happy too."
- Make Someone Happy