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That's A Wrap

I was “Jo” in my senior class play “Jenny Kissed Me.”

Now, sixty years later, I played “Mrs. Soames” in Stained Glass Playhouse’s production of “Our Town.”

A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Can you believe a friend MY AGE just made her community theater debut?”

It is unbelievable.

It all started with my Lenten devotionals. One day, the devotion was “Replace my eyes of  unbelief with your eyes of possibilities.” Another day, “God, break through with your power in all my choices, to accomplish your highest good.”

Be careful when you pray those prayers.

My son dropped off the weekly arts newspaper. He thought I would like to read an article about the importance of writing for mental health. And I did read that article. But what “jumped out at me” was the announcement of auditions in Winston-Salem for roles in “Our Town.”

Thanks to the Internet, I quickly went online to the Stained Glass Playhouse website and saw how to submit a reservation form to audition. The form said encouraging things, like “No experience required.” That was definitely me. My experience was limited to attending high school plays back in the ‘90s and taking my grandchildren to Children’s Theater productions.

I read through the various roles and decided I would read for Mrs. Soames, a character described as a “gossipy chatterbox.” All the other roles were too young for me.

These were the voices in my head:

·        “You’ll have to drive twenty-five miles each way to the Playhouse.”

·        “You’ll have to drive in the dark, and you know you hate that.”

·        “You don’t have any idea what you are doing.”

Sometimes you just need to shush those voices down. I reminded myself,

·        “Soon we will go on Daylight Savings Time, and I can drive to the Playhouse in the light.”

·        “By the end of the play run,  I will know the route by heart and it won’t be scary to drive home at night.”

·        “It said, ‘No experience required,’ dagnabbit.”

Well, I was thrilled to get the part and none of my worst fears were realized. Would you believe, the director THANKED ME for auditioning!

Now, eleven weeks later, I feel like I ran a marathon and crossed the finish line. I can’t believe I actually did it! It seems like a dream.

·        Thirty-five round trips to Stained Glass Playhouse in Winston, fifty-two miles each round trip

·        No more getting home at 11:30 at night

·        No more drinking a protein drink and calling it dinner

·        No more costume changing in the Sunday School room for two-year-olds, sitting on pint-sized chairs to put on my shoes

·        No more making sure I have cough drops and my phone is charged for the GPS

·        No more remembering a handkerchief, which has become part of my character

·        No more exchanging my 21st century glasses for some that look more like early 20th century, and remembering to take them off entirely for the cemetery act

·        No more helping to button and zip my castmates into their costumes

·        No more sitting around kibbitz-ing with my castmates while listening for our cues

·        No more wearing a slip and knee-high stockings under a floor-length skirt

·        No more fist bumps, pinkie wishes, air kisses, “Good show,” or “Break a leg”

·        I have twenty new friends from the cast and crew. We will all be watching for each other in future productions

The support I received from my book club, the Greensboro Newcomers Club, the Memory Makers writing group, and my family and other friends was so uplifting and heartwarming.

The director told us 588 people attended our nine performances. That was the third highest attendance since the Playhouse began keeping records. Pretty good for a small theater. Our final performance was sold out.

I hope these performances contributed to the “highest good” talked about in my Lenten devotional. Several people told me they had read or seen “Our Town” years ago, but had forgotten a lot of it. This production reminded them of its universal, timeless message.

“Do any human beings ever realize life as they live it…every, every minute?”

Have you been led to try something new, lately?

PS “Our Town” is having a moment. It is being revived on Broadway this fall for the first time in twenty-five years, with cast members including Katie Holmes, Richard Thomas, and Jim Parsons. “Our Town” is also featured prominently in Ann Patchett’s latest book, “Tom Lake.”


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