After the family saw the Evening On Broadway performance I was in with Inspire Creative, Bug expressed an interest in doing a show himself.
“I’m starting to forget what it’s like to be on stage,” he said.
“I know what you mean Bug. I’ll look into that for you.”
Before moving to Colorado, Buddy was in several shows through a program at our YMCA. Bug was only 3 or 4 but he wanted to “play” with Buddy too and so he was often cast in little roles like a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. (Literally a “little” role. Haha! I tickle myself!) Anyway, it was sort of surprising to me that it was Bug that wanted to perform again and not Buddy.
It was only a few days after EOB ended that I saw that Inspire Creative was putting on Aladdin Jr. Auditions would be held in just two days. I asked Bug if he would be interested.
“Yes, yes! I want to do it! I want to do it!” he said.
“The audition is only in two days. Can you have a monologue and song prepared in two days?”
“Yes!” he said with a tone of defense. Did I doubt him? How dare!
“If you really want to do this then I’ll arrange an audition appointment for you but listen, this isn’t something that you can change your mind on. If you decide half way through that you aren’t enjoying it, that’s just too bad because you will have a cast of kids counting on you to do your part. Do you understand that?”
After emphatically swearing that this was something he really, really, really, wanted to do, we got on line to find an age appropriate monologue and song for him. Bug locked himself in his room and set to work.
For about all of 5 minutes.
“You didn’t work on that for very long. Do you have everything memorized already?”
“Yeah. Well…almost. I’ll work on it later,” he flippantly answered.
I wasn’t going to push him to do anything. If he really wanted to do this it would have to be on his own drive. Later on in the day I overheard him working on his monologue again. Through out the day I would catch Bug taking time out of play to work on his audition pieces. The next afternoon I took him to his audition.
“I want to be the Genie!” he hoped aloud.
“Well Bug, just remember you don’t get to choose your part. Remember when Mommy auditioned for Evita? I didn’t get that part though. I was cast in the ensemble.”
“Yeah and you didn’t get to be the Baroness in Sound of Music either…”
“You never really seem to get the role you want, mom.”
“Nope, but I still love it. I still have fun and I learn from each audition and from each show. I just want you to realize that you may not get the part you want. Regardless, once you commit to this, you have to stick to it. OK?”
Bug’s audition went well. He made them smile and he looked like he was comfortable and having fun. There was a dance audition that I feared for him but he seemed unphased by it. We later got the e-mail that he was to be cast as a guard and as Prince Baba of Ganoush.
Bug was thrilled!
Rehearsals soon followed. I dropped Bug off at his first rehearsal and met up with a friend so that I would not be there to watch. I know myself. If I watch I was going to have to be bound and gagged so as to not give advice. He had directors and choreographers. He wasn’t going to need my input. They would teach him and correct him and shape him. When I picked him up he was flushed with excitement and grinning from ear to ear!
“I’ve got my book and CD!” he said, waving said materials at me.
“Can we listen to the CD in the car?” he asked.
The whole way home we listened to the Aladdin tracks. I grew up with this show. I know all of the songs and, with out thinking, began to sing along.
“Um…Mom,” Bug said as he rested his hand on my arm. “Would you please not sing to this?”
“Oh. Sure Bug. Sorry. I didn’t even realize I was. I used to watch this movie over and over!”
“Yeah well, this is my show.”
“Ah! Yes. Got it.”
And so it went week after week. I’d take Bug to his rehearsal and then I’d meet with my friend or sit in the lobby and read. I would not watch the rehearsals. (Which was hard because they were my friends in there directing and choreographing the show.) After each rehearsal Bug would talk excitedly about the show. Every night he listened to his Aladdin CD.
One afternoon I picked him up from school and he said, “Mom, I LOVE Tuesdays and Saturdays because I get to go to rehearsal!! I always look forward to it!”
I was so glad to hear it because despite loving karate and swim, there are still days that Bug wants to skip out. There was not one time that he asked to stay home from rehearsal though.
“What’s your favorite part, Bug?”
“The dancing,” he answered without pausing to think.
I found this quite amusing since it is the dance rehearsals that usually send me home in tears of frustration. I picked him up early from rehearsal a few times to peek in and see how he did. His dancing was not amazing but honestly, he seemed to pick it up better than his Mom. Whatdya know?
After one rehearsal, my friend and the choreographer for Aladdin, Carlos asked me to do him a favor.
“Would you mind helping Bug with his three-point turns at home?”
“Ha! Are you serious?”
“Did we not just do Evening On Broadway together? Do you not recall my pulling you aside so that you could teach ME three-point turns?”
“Yes. That’s why I know you can do it.”
“Pfft! Barely! Besides, Bug has repeatedly made it clear to me that this is HIS show and that I’m not to be involved. If I try to teach it to him he’ll feel like I’m criticizing him. It won’t be received.”
“Just tell him I asked you to.”
Um no. I did not review three-point turns with Bug.
I couldn’t stay completely uninvolved. If I was going to drive all the way to Parker for these rehearsals I wanted to be utilized in some way and so I volunteered to help with costumes. Pam was head of costumes and I’d worked with her in EOB. It was great getting to know her better and I really loved the creativity that goes into costuming on a budget and with little to no sewing skills. Plus, it kept me backstage and out of “Bug’s Show.”
Tech week came and it was Go Time for Aladdin. Every night the kids rehearsed. Costumes, sets, lights and sound were added to their much rehearsed songs and dances. Each night when rehearsal was over, Bug sort of fell into the back seat of the car.
“I’m exhausted!” he confessed to me one night. “But it’s so worth it!”
At one rehearsal the young lady playing Jasmine asked if someone would be able to do her makeup. Usually performers do their own makeup but these are kids and they have little experience with it.
“Oo! I’ll do it!” I volunteered.
I went home and looked at different ideas for how to do her makeup and ended up with ideas for the other characters as well.
“I am NOT wearing makeup,” Bug announced to me one day.
“Well, Bug…ya are. That’s a part of theater. Everyone wears makeup, even the men, or your face will be hard to see for the audience.”
He looked at me skeptically. “I seriously doubt the MEN are wearing makeup!” he bellowed.
“Oh yes they do! Even your Uncle wears it when he does shows.”
Bug found this shocking. His Uncle is a Marine for crying out loud! (Oh it makes me laugh how the boys see my BIL as GI Joe and I just see him as a song and dance man from our Jazz Choir days!) So I took to Facebook and asked that my BIL, Bug’s music director and the choreographer please confirm that men do indeed wear makeup on stage. Through out the day I got an outpouring of photos and videos and messages from the many men that I have performed with in the past. Each time I got a picture or message I’d call Bug over to my phone or to the computer so he could see. The pics both impressed and tickled him! It was not long before he was convinced that he should wear makeup for the show.
At dress rehearsal Bug was the first to sit in my chair. Ready for his makeup he said, “You know Mom, makeup really completes a character.”
Each night he’d sit in my chair for his makeup.
“Don’t forget the blush. Oh and my eyeliner. Don’t forget that! Even though it IS the worst invention known to man,” he sighed, quoting a line from my friend Taylor’s video on how to apply stage makeup.
The rehearsals started to end later and Bug was dragging. Tech week is always trying. At the end of one rehearsal he told Tanner, his music director, “Man! This makeup is really knocking me out.”
Oh that kid!
On the way home we would have a 45 minute drive for him to talk and talk and talk to me.
“Mom, do you see that airplane? Mom, I see a star! It’s blue so that means it’s a new star.” *whispering* “Oh! I wish I could tell you the wish I just made! It’s a REALLY good one. Mom, which is bigger: the moon or Pluto? Mom, has America ever been at war with France? In what year did Colorado become a state? What state of matter is fire? It’s not a liquid and it’s not a solid. I guess it’s a gas but that just doesn’t seem right to me…”
One night he sat Shot Gun and he kept “flipping” through the songs on my iPod only stopping on the songs that he liked. We listened to Willie Nelson, Beastie Boys, Andrea Bocelli, Blur… At one point a song came on that is sort of a chick anthem. Bug quickly changed it and then changed it back again. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I must confess I actually like this song, but lets just keep that between us, OK Mom?”
Finally it was opening night! That whole day Bug kept humming and singing the song Opening Night from Producers, a number we did in EOB. He didn’t talk much about the evening’s impending events but it was pretty obvious that it was all he was thinking about. On the way to the theater Bug reflected on the past few months.
“This has been so much fun Mom! I definitely want to do another show. What should I audition for next?”
“Well, we are going to be going on a trip and then when we get back I will be starting on my rehearsals for Jekyll and Hyde, but after THAT we can look into another show for you.”
“What?! I have to wait THAT long!”
“I’m afraid so. It won’t be possible for me to take you to rehearsals while I have my own. Oo! I know! Maybe the next show we do together!” I suggested.
“Um. No. I want to do my own shows.”
“I’ve really had fun…I even like the makeup. I tried to treat every rehearsal as if it was an actual performance,” he said.
“That’s the way to do it, Bug.”
The performances were great! I was really impressed with all of the kids and especially Bug! Of course, I have a mother’s bias but I’ve heard good feed back from everyone who came out to see the show. We celebrated Opening Night at Baskin Robbins and then went straight home and to bed as the Saturday call time was early. After those shows we helped clean up back stage and then I took a very tired and very satisfied boy home.
“Why don’t you take a shower and really scrub your face good to get all of that make up off,” I suggested as we pulled into the driveway. Bug obeyed and went straight to the bathroom. I found My Man in our bedroom.
“How’d the last shows go?” he asked.
“Fabulously!” I crowed. “I’m so stinkin proud of Bug! He really stuck to it and he made it through tech week with out a complaint! That’s tough.”
“What’s that sound?” Man asked.
From the bathroom we could hear sniffles and hiccups.
“Is he crying?” Man asked.
We listened some more.
“He is!” I gleefully gasped! “He has post show blues!” I whispered.
“You know how down I get after a show is over? Bug’s experiencing the same thing.”
“Oh my gah!” Man said in exasperation.
“Oh yes. He’s hooked. He’s crying because he fell in love!”
I knocked on the door.
“Bug…can I come in?”
“NO!” he sobbed.
“Honey, are you crying?”
“Sweetheart, I know you feel sad because your show is over…” I said through the door. “Can I please come in?”
“Fine,” Bug sighed.
As soon as I walked in he came to me and buried his face in my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around him and the flood gates opened.
“You have Post Show Blues, Bug. This happens to a lot of performers after a show ends. For months you have worked to create something and now it’s finished. That’s hard to let go of. The cure is to do another show.”
“But you said I can’t until after YOURS!”
“Yep. And I limit myself to the number of shows I do because it’s hard on the family’s schedule. We have to balance the play and work in our lives. But I promise you that I will be keeping my eye out for auditions for you at Stage Door and Evergreen Theater too.”
“But they aren’t going to be as good as Inspire! Inspire is the best!”
“Ha ha! They are really wonderful and that’s part of the reason I wanted you to work with them but there are other theaters that are closer that I’d like you to try. You will want to audition with lots of different theaters. Audition for the show that interests you and not just the company that you like. Both are important. We’ll see what shows are going on and if the best for you is with Inspire, I’ll still take you there.”
“I want to do Aladdin again but now I probably never will!”
“Oh that’s not true. My friend Matt did Jekyll and Hyde once already and now he gets to do it again! Maybe one day you’ll get to do Aladdin again and maybe you will be older and more experienced and get to be the Genie!”
Bug continued to sob into my shoulder.
“I hate what I’m about to say because it’s cheesy but it’s the truth: Don’t be sad that it’s over but happy that it happened.” I kissed the top of his head. “Take a long hot shower. It will help. You can even just wear jammies after if you want.”
After his shower Bug was much better. We had a lovely dinner as a family (our first in a week) out on the patio. Bug and Buddy laughed together about their favorite scenes and Buddy said that he might want to do a show again too. Later, we tucked the boys into bed and Man and I retired to the basement for a movie. When I went to bed I was surprised to find that Bug was still awake. He was listening to his Aladdin CD still and crying. In the morning he said he cried himself to sleep. So sad!
I’m so proud of him and how hard he worked. I’m super stoked that he is as in love with theater as I am! The Bug got the bug to be sure!