I love writing. Always have, always will. But my other passion? Theater. Especially musical theater.
Every person who ever stepped on a stage knows in that moment, there is nowhere else you would rather be—and goodness, how I miss that feeling. And the last time I performed in a musical? Senior year of high school. I landed the role of Vivienne Kensington in Legally Blonde—and let me tell you, she is so much better in the musical than in the movie.
After four to six hours of rehearsals after school almost every day, plus 10-hour rehearsals on the weekends just shy of opening night, the cast becomes your family. And let me tell you: I never experienced the same unity that comes from musical theater anywhere else. You are genuinely sweating, laughing and crying with these people—so, when it ends, you go through a period of mourning. I know I did.
I burst into tears as soon as the curtain closed on the final night.
There’s this inexplicable feeling that swells within me every time I step on stage. I simultaneously want to sing, scream, laugh and dance all at the same time. The catharsis that comes from musical theater is the perfect way to end a stressful day. And after being in college with no musical theater for three years, there is nothing that I wouldn’t give just to stand in the spotlight again. The heat and jubilation that comes from the lights, the dull roar of the crowd and the swell of the orchestra—irreplicable.
But I do have to give my university some major props: they sell us extremely discounted Broadway seats. And when you can’t get on stage, seeing someone else on stage is the next best thing.
I got to see two shows through St. John’s University before COVID-19 reared its ugly head: Anastasia and Dear Evan Hansen.
Anastasia holds a special place in my heart from the beginning, since the movie is a certified childhood favorite of mine. I had my reservations about it since it didn’t follow the movie plot, but as soon as Christy Altomare sang In My Dreams? Totally captivated. Cody Simpson as Dmitry? Incredible. I got to see the show just a couple of weeks shy of their closing—which made meeting the cast a top priority to my friends and I.
Luckily, I have a knack for weaving my way to the front of the crowd outside of the stage door.
I got all of my friend’s playbills signed, and took pictures to boot!
Now, Dear Evan Hansen is a completely different beast. Everyone who says that it’s gut-wrenching and impactful? Listen to them. I cried off a chunk of my makeup, and my friends can attest to that. Now, I knew going in that it was not a happy story, but I really had no idea how much it would move me. I remember walking around Times Square after the show in a total haze. That post-musical haze hung around for about a week. And I loved every second of it. So, when the Spring 2020 semester rolled around, my friends and I chatted excitingly about what shows campus concierge might sell—then COVID-19 hit. Our school shuttered. Broadway shuttered. Everything shuttered.
And me? I felt devastated. And I know I was not alone.
Fast forward to now: Broadway won’t attempt to open at least until the summer of 2021 and coronavirus cases are spiking everywhere. I haven’t seen my best friends in months. I lost some close friends and family to the virus. And there is no catharsis waiting for me outside of the soundtracks in my Spotify playlist. My choir teacher from high school wanted to start an alumni choir—that hope too is dashed. For now, anyway.
It’s so strange to think back on my musical theater history now. I performed for over a thousand people with my close friends, led a section of Soprano 1’s, danced in four-inch heels in a feathered accented maid costume (Babette fromBeauty and the Beast, anyone?) and got to hug Broadway legends. Of course, I couldn’t do any of that in the current climate we are living in, but I’m confident that one day I can find a way to do it again.
I have hope that the incoming administration will provide us with some much-needed relief from this disaster. But, until then? I’ll be playing Wait for It from Hamilton.