Back When I Wanted to Be a Broadway Star
[Caution: This post contains some very, very embarrassing old photos so please, no judgment]
You may have heard me talk before about my previous ambitions of being a Broadway actress/singer/dancer/all-around-star. It all started when I was about ten or so, and someone got me to watch “Phantom of the Opera.” Ding, ding, ding! There you have it, folks. I was hooked. I dreamed of being Christine and getting to wear pretty lacy dresses and sashay around candle-lit stages with the fog glowing in the stage lights. Seriously, it was all I ever thought about. I bought posters of New York City and hung them in my room. I begged my mom to let me go and visit. I begged my grandpa to take me to a Broadway play. And I memorized every word of “Phantom”, just in case I happened to get my lucky break when some talent scout randomly asked me to sing “All I Ask of You” in the grocery store one day. You never know. It could happen.
Anyway, when I was eleven years old, my grandpa announced that he was going to take me and my cousin Rena, along with our moms, to New York City for one long, adventure-filled weekend. There was only one slight catch. We were going in the middle of February.
To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so cold in my life. Seattle in January didn’t have anything on a February day in NYC. We lasted about thirty seconds on top of the empire state building, because the arctic breezes nearly fast-froze us. We avoided Central Park, horse-and-buggy rides, and anything that would involve us being outside for more than thirty minutes at a time.
Thank goodness there was only one place I wanted to go that was completely indoors and very-well heated. And that was Broadway. Okay, okay, I know that Broadway is actually a street, and that there are tons of theaters that play tons of shows that range from the childish to the sleazy. But there was only one building I was thinking about, and that was the one with the big blazing signs that read, “Phantom of the Opera” out front. They dazzled, they glowed. It was love at first sight.
We got all dressed up and I distinctly remember that being the first ever night I wore makeup. My cousin wore bright blue eyeshadow and I somehow thought it would be cool to wear hot pink lipgloss and we both donned our best little black dresses for the performance. My grandpa even brought his own tux. Gosh, we were so sophisticated.
I remember that as being the best night of my life, up until that point. I knew every word, every line, every plot twist. But I fell in love all over again. With Broadway. With the stage. With my supposed future.
Well, if you’re reading my blog today, you’ll probably realize that I am, in fact, not a Broadway star. Why? Because one day, I realized I can’t sing. Or dance particularly well. And I don’t exactly have that “star-like” quality that makes people shell out big bucks to come and see your face highlighted in lights.
So I write. And take pictures. And do just about anything possible to stay behind-the-scenes, if you will. But I still have my little indulgences. I hadn’t listened to a showtune in years (Okay, okay, besides “Defying Gravity”, which I completely love and blast all the time, despite having never seen nor knowing anything about the play “Wicked”. Because I’m weird like that), but when my mom surprised me with the “Les Miserables” soundtrack for Easter, I lit up like a little girl on Christmas morning. And proceeded to play it five times in a row on our long ride to Cincinnati, and sing every single line with overly dramatic flair, just to make my mom laugh. “Had you seen her today you might now how it feeeeels… To be struck to the bone in a moment of breathless deliiiiight…”
We all need a little something in our lives to remind us of the dreams we once held high and lofty. And maybe it won’t always be my dream to be a writer, but I sure know I’ll never forget the “breathless delight” that I get from telling a good story. Even an embarrassing one. Like the one I can’t believe I just told you now.