Authors love to put a character through trial and tribulations and push their limits. Delilah’s really good at it, isn’t she? It’s fun reading about people forced to grow and change. But doing it ourselves can be pretty painful, unless we find the right challenge to encourage the proper kind of growth. I found the right one for me—I auditioned for my local community theater, the Hamilton Players production of Disaster! A 70s Disaster Movie… Musical!
I sing regularly in my church choir, but I haven’t acted or danced since my community college days in the early 80’s, and I wasn’t particularly great then. When I heard about this particular musical, I thought it was the perfect vehicle to push a few of my limits. The music is familiar—it’s all 70’s hits—and I wasn’t trying for a lead role, just a position in the ensemble.
The audition itself was rather nerve-wracking. The singing was no problem, and the light improvisation wasn’t too bad, but the dancing? Yikes. Just the few steps we learned that night were really hard for me. I’m physically fit for my age, but I’m pretty klutzy, and hip swings and pelvic thrusts aren’t part of my normal workout routine! So, I did my best and laughed off my flubs. When they asked us for our best 70’s free dance, I decided to dance like I just didn’t care and went full-on Saturday Night Fever. Pretty sure I looked ridiculous, but hey, at least I gave it my best shot.
The cast list went up just two days later and to my great shock, I was on it as part of the ensemble. We started rehearsals the next week, getting scripts and doing a full read-through. During the read-through, I was assigned the part of Victim 1—by all the suns, I have lines!—and eventually, I ended up in a ‘named’ part as The Blind Woman. We started on choreography that week as well. Initially, I was disappointed to not be in all of the ensemble pieces, but it wasn’t long before I was grateful. Dancing is a huge challenge for me, especially synchronized dancing.
Not only was I working hard at every rehearsal—four nights a week plus Sunday afternoons—but doing extra dance practices and an hour or so at home most days. Learning even the simplest steps was hard and every muscle surrounding my hips was screaming at me for a couple of weeks. But I persevered and while I’ll never be a natural or great dancer, I got good enough to not totally disgrace our lovely choreographers, Michelle Post and Natalie Naidl.
The singing, speaking and blocking (how you move on the stage while speaking) was easy in comparison. Our director, Denise Rose, and musical director, Emily Athman, handed out critiques, praise and a few blunt expressions of disappointment, pushing all of us to our best performances. I learned a lot from both of them and really enjoyed the whole process, even when it was slightly painful for me personally.
After our final week of dress rehearsals, I was too tired to be terribly nervous before the first performance. Once the performances started, I had so much fun! Sure, there were a few blunders, forgotten lines and missed entrances, but overall, it was smooth and over too quickly. By the second week, we were firmly in the groove, a tight-knit team. We had a great time on stage and off. Those of us with minor roles had a backstage ‘dance party’ during one of the big solo numbers on stage. One of the lead players wrote a lip-synching script for all of us to a medley of ABBA songs which she filmed before performances. Many nights the cast went out after the performance too. I was thrilled, excited and happy to be a part of the amazing whole.
After nine performances, we took our final bows with standing ovations and calls for extending the run. After our final show, we broke down the set and had a cast party. It was definitely a bittersweet day. I’m happy to have all the time back, but I’m really sad I won’t be hanging out with all these fantastic people every day.
Overall, it was a great way to push my limits a little and force a little growth. I highly recommend community theater to anyone. If you’re not into performing, there are many ways to contribute: on house staff, fund-raising, set building and technical crew are just a few. Check out your local theater!
I’ll definitely try out for another show, but probably not for a while—I have another book to write! And speaking of, I’ve just released my fifth in the Folding Space Series, Lightwave: Circini Search. If you like adventure and battles in space with a little romance, like Firefly or Star Wars, I think you’ll like my books.
If you sign up for my newsletter on amscottwrites.com, you’ll get a free novella, Lightwave: Nexus Station. Check it out! Have a wonderful summer and check back with the talented and generous Delilah Devlin daily!