Musical Meanderings and Theatrical Thoughts

Have you ever learned something new about yourself?  That maybe you hadn’t even thought of, and you were surprised?

Today I did.

I was sitting on the front porch, soaking in the warmth from the sun that was shining brightly today.  Thinking about last night’s conversation about movies and television shows, and a conversation from Thursday night, I realized:

I’d rather see live theater than go to a movie.  Any day.

The Grand Opera House in Macon, where I have spent many a happy time with my crew.

The Grand Opera House in Macon, where I have spent many a happy time with my crew.

I rarely go to the movies anymore.  I think the last one I went to was the final Harry Potter movie back in 2011.  My oldest Aub and I said to goodbye to Harry just as we first met him–together.  I guess the recent releases of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University will change that in the next few weeks, as both movies’ predecessors were family favorites.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy movies at the theater.  I do, and actually, the previews are often my favorite part.  Still, given a choice–live theater wins hands down.

My cousin and I were visiting over the phone a couple of nights ago, at one point talking about musicals.  He mentioned that Phantom of the Opera was coming to Atlanta.  Oh to see something like that live!  We talked about different musicals and which ones were our favorites.  Sound of Music and Mary Poppins had us reminiscing about Julie Andrews, one of our all-time favorites.  So much so that I can watch Princess Diaries 2 over and over and I don’t mind that she doesn’t even really sing in it.  I just love her.

I guess you could say my siblings and I cut our teeth on Elvis movies, which were nearly all musicals as I recall.  Daddy’s favorite was “Follow That Dream,” and it is really good though I don’t think it’s as well-known.  Aub’s favorite is “Viva Las Vegas,” as she loves Elvis and Ann-Margret.  But her all-time favorite musical, I think, is Wicked.  Daddy’s favorite musical was Cats.  He put many a child out for a nap by either holding them or having them sit next to him in the rusty colored recliner.  He knew which song each child would make it to before going to sleep.  We have the Cats DVD here, but I haven’t had the heart to watch it again yet.  (And I’m not sure if I have ever made it all the way through–there was something about watching it with Daddy and a snoozing child…..)

I am so thankful that Mama and Daddy made taking us to see plays a priority.  I don’t remember when we started going, but I know we were quite young.  My favorite memory of going to the theater with them was when we went to the annual children’s play at Wesleyan when we were all still little.  We sat in the row that let Daddy, just over six feet tall, stretch his legs just a bit.  At one point during the play, a man came in, stopped next to where Daddy was sitting, and bellowed, “What’s going on in here?”  Daddy thought some man had wandered in, inebriated, and he was going to have to do something about it.  Turns out the man was the ogre in the play.  (Daddy was quite relieved, and today that man, son of the director at the time, is now a faculty member at Wesleyan.)  Creative staging–I love it.

There is such an energy in the whole theater when a performance is going on.  When I was in fourth grade I was cast in my first play–My Brother Sam is Dead.  Later Mama would tell the story at how tickled she was to sit and watch my mouth move during everyone else’s lines.  I don’t remember that, I just remember the energy and the tingling nervousness about remembering my lines and knowing just what to do when.  I loved it.  I ventured into the world of theater in college as well.  I had been so enamored with the actresses (and actor) of the plays we attended all those years, that I decided on a whim to audition my freshman year.  I was cast in small parts, learned technical jobs–lights, sound, curtains, spotlight, served as stage manager, studied set design, directed a one-act play, and my junior year–I was cast in a leading role in the children’s play for that year.  I don’t think I could wipe that smile off my face all year.  I was hooked.

In the past couple of years I have had the joy of introducing my littles to live theater through a children’s series at the Grand Opera House in Macon.  I love to watch their faces and see them clap enthusiastically at the appropriate times.  They are so good about being quiet and not wiggling too much.  They are enchanted and entranced.  I think they really do love it.  Our Princess and Cooter are sad when it’s the last play of the season.  It makes me happy to share it with them, and I hope they will always find joy in the theater just as I have all these years.  That’s a legacy that’s worth passing along.

Well, that and Cats and Elvis movies.