Musings of a Musician Mom, Opus 1 no.

1 Stage Fright Long before I ever held a viola, I had a career on the stage. My first role was Turkey Lurkey in the 2nd grade class production of “Chicken Little”. In 3rd grade, having achieved success as a turkey, I was upgraded to an even larger flightless bird and played Louisa in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”. In 4th grade I appeared in a play written by Lillian, one of my classmates. I had only one line which I managed to deliver at the wrong time. By some stroke of luck, the line was funny at the wrong time and people laughed. Emboldened, I delivered it again at the correct time, this time with more feeling and people laughed again. I was bouyed by my success and very relieved that I hadn’t blown the whole play as Lillian lived across the street. We were counting on a favorable review by the Chicago Trib critic. In junior high I went on to even greater fame and glory, playing the nurse in “I Remember Mama”. In high school, I gave up acting and played in the pit for four years under Dr. Watson. You know, the one who “discovered” Ann-Margret and only smiled when the spotlight hit him during his end-of-show bows. My mom used to say he drank vinegar for breakfast instead of orange juice. I am absolutely convinced she was right. I was “discovered” myself the summer I was a camper at the Brevard Music Center. I had just emptied my mailbox and was sitting on the split rail fence surrounding the old theater. I believe my hair was in two braids that day, and I was probably wearing jeans. Papa John McCreach was standing in the theater with my work-study boss, the costume mistress. He called out to me “You they-ah, come over he-yah”. So I obligingly sauntered over. He gave me an appraising glance and asked “What do you do he-yah?” I hadn’t even opened my mouth when the wardrobe mistress doubled over with laughter, saying “Oh no, Papa, she can’t do that-she has to play in the pit”. It turns out that Papa had decided to end next week’s show, “Oklahoma” with a tableau of “American Gothic” on stage after the bows. These two had been discussing who would play the wife -when Papa saw me and thought I’d be perfect. I guess I made the finals (as we say in the orchestra world) for “blonde, pale AND homely.” Actually, I wasn’t insulted but highly amused. Since I was already booked that evening I didn’t get the fame and glory of appearing onstage, but I did sew the apron for the lucky winner. I’ve since traded my thespian aspirations for a career in stand-up comedy. My private students are the perfect audience. First of all, they’re easily amused. Secondly, until their parents arrive to retrieve them -they can’t walk out.

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