Jarrah had her theatrical debut yesterday, on the very same stage where I stood two weeks ago in Sylvia.
Her acting teacher, Jill (Sylvia herself) has been working hard to costume her four charges in Western-themed garb (the musical is about the Wild West) and she is surely the costume queen. Because she only saw the girls for an hour a week, the show wasn't long, but where it lacked in quantity it surely excelled in quality.
I must confess, Readers, to being mightily impressed, and not just because I'm biased. The girls range in age from 5 (Jarrah is the youngest) to 8, and their talent astounded me. They smiled, they danced, they sang, they projected, and they all remembered their lines. And no one missed a cue. Wow.
I cried through the whole thing. "Oh," my friend Lisa (who was sooooo sweet to make the time to come) teased, "The whole two and a half minutes?" (It was longer than that!) "I would have cried for an hour, given the opportunity," I insisted.
Dave, my director from Sylvia, was there, and he grumbled "These kids have a bigger turn-out than we did." Kenny, who played my mother in A Tuna Christmas, came out for the occasion, seemingly dressed as a pirate. David (that would be my husband) was there, videotaping the whole shebang. (Lucky you!) And about a dozen assorted brothers and sisters descended on the cupcakes and juice boxes I brought, clearing the area in about 30 seconds.
Part of the show was "the transformation stage," in which the kids got themselves into costume, hair and makeup while we watched, very deftly, I might add. Even Jarrah needed very little help, all the more amazing since this was their first day in costume.
Jill had arranged for the kids to go straight across the street to a local elementary school (one of the girls attends) for an encore performance, and it was also downright amazing to see how they adapted to a completely new stage and a rather massive captive audience of after-school kids. I'm not sure my delicate sensibilities could have withstood all the change.
The part that broke my heart right in two was after the curtain call and bows, when the girls headed backstage. Jarrah returned momentarily, parting the curtain to blow us a kiss. Now, that would be darn cute all on its own, but it was also chilling: This little gesture is my signature--I end every show there with this cutesy shout-out to my fans. And now, I've passed the baton to the next generation! So cool, and cry-inducing.
Most of all, I was just so proud that Jarrah behaved like a real actor. Last week, we had a little conversation about what it means to "break character," (during her rehearsal, I'd seen her step on something in her bare feet, and take the time to figure out what it was) and why you have to avoid it in order to preserve the magic. I told her that one night in Sylvia, both my bra straps had slipped off during my entrance, and I spent the whole scene being trussed and bound because no way would Phyllis have reached in her dress and hiked them up. Jarrah understood what I was saying, but said it seemed too hard. I agreed. "But we suffer for our art," I concluded.
And she obviously took this to heart. She's had a lousy cough this week, and didn't cough on stage once. Afterward, she pointed this out. "I didn't cough! Instead, I just held my breath." And how awesome is it that she didn't wave to her mommy and daddy?
That's my girl, the consummate professional. Here's the video: you can click to make it full-screen.