for what it’s worth, i’ll miss you

when i last mentioned bright star, we were being postponed. so many things were uncertain, but i’m so happy to say that i am writing this after we closed on a full run after months of waiting. it’s been such an amazing journey and i want so much to share it with you.

being able to work with reston community players (for real this time) was such an incredible honor. i felt so much sadness and yearning when mamma mia! had to be cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic. when they announced that the show was going to be postponed, i felt so much fear all over again, but in the end things were able to come to fruition.

taking time off due to the pandemic and also to focus on my wedding really made coming back to theatre so much more special. i remember how hectic this audition was for me, in particular, because i wasn’t even sure i wanted to do this show. if i’m being honest, “bluegrass musical” did not sound like something i would enjoy, at all. but with my heart itching to be on stage again and with the multitude of incomplete dreams with reston community players, i knew that if i didn’t take this chance, i’d regret it.

what made matters worse is i completely forgot when auditions were and when i realized the dates, i only had about four days to prepare something (especially since i was going to be traveling the weekend before!) picking a bluegrass or folk song to audition with was so incredibly difficult. i was overwhelmed by trying to find something that felt theatrical but also fit the genre. i settled on the circle game and forced my brother to help me work on it at the last minute. before i knew it, it was audition day and i was in knots worrying because i didn’t feel like i had prepared enough.

at the audition, i learned that the production team that had worked on a show i recently saw (and absolutely adored) would be doing this show as well. the assistant director was also one of the leads from that show and of course i absolutely fangirled. you can imagine my surprise when i received a callback – especially when i felt that i bombed the dance portion of my audition and probably made myself seem really strange when i got so excited about their last production. but i did it, i was called back! the callback for the female ensemble was rigorous. of course there were a lot more women competing for a spot than men and i already felt so nervous about my dancing.

being cast was such an incredible honor, but the hiccup for me was that the first rehearsal i had already ended up making plans for (oops!) in the end, andrew and cammy generously woke up at 5 am after a fourteen hour day at cedar point so we could get me back to virginia in time for rehearsal the next day. (i’m not thanking tony because it’s pretty much his job to deal with my selfishness haha) the first rehearsal was utterly worth it, especially when i realized i had no actual clue what the show was about and so being present at the read through was essential. i was also quite surprised that i got a minor role along with being ensemble – florence, who bragged a solid seven lines in the show; three of them including the name billy.

now florence was such a difficult character for me. between the accent, finding context for my lines, and discovering how to play her, i was really in my head for a very long time. it wasn’t until a few weeks before we went into tech that i finally felt that i had found her. please note that because of the show being postponed that was a good five and a half months before i was comfortable. now i know that you may be thinking, “why did you stress so much for such a small role?” but honestly, i felt so incredibly honored to have been selected for her that i really wanted to do her justice and prove just how much she meant to me.

doing a show for longer than three to four months is honestly quite taxing. i didn’t think it would take such a toll on me, but having this script and score part of my daily life for so long made it feel heavier with each day and lose its luster. the choreography, though immensely fun, and the songs which were beautifully written became almost a second conscious to me – always playing in the back of my head. tony was honestly going a little insane hearing all things bright star for almost seven months. i will say that overall, now that it’s said and done, that i absolutely love this show – the script, score, and choreography.

probably the most challenging part of the process was the fear of covid. now please don’t misunderstand me, being cautious of covid is completely valid and fair! between the health risks, complications of the show if someone were to get sick, and just the fear of having to cancel if one person spread it to everyone, covid was definitely a dark shadow that hung around in the corner of the entire experience constantly. but i think the degrees to which caution was exercised would sometimes reach a point of absurdity. now of course, we’ll never know if just one instance of extremity is the whole reason we were able to run all the way until closing, but to say that at some points i didn’t feel frustrated about some practices wouldn’t be honest. in the end we were able to make it through and that’s all that matters!

Heather Reagan Photography

taking a step away from the acting and the show itself, can i just say how undeniably blessed i am to have worked with such outstanding and amazing people? the caliber of the entire team was beyond my wildest dreams. the degree of professionalism, talent, and pure grit of the cast was something i still hold in awe. in addition to that, the vision of our director was beyond outstanding – he really took this show and made it his own. but i’d be doing a disservice to myself if i didn’t mention that i gained some truly irreplaceable friends from this cast in particular. i grew to love so many people, but i became especially close to a few people that i hope stay in my life for a long, long, long time. the people i became close with made this experience one that i will cherish always. (a special shoutout to my special stage left friends!)

the love i received from my friends and family was almost unprecedented. so many flowers – even some sent from those who couldn’t make it, made me feel so impossibly special. being able to see them out in the audience while i performed gave me the drive to do my absolute best. not to mention my wonderfully patient and enduring husband, tony. he listened to bright star talk for months and months, dealt with late nights, a cranky wife, rarely seeing each other at some points, and me coming home going a hundred miles per hour on adrenaline when he was trying to wind down for the night. but as this show came to a close, we were discussing what my next plans were and he said, “i want you to take a break because i’m selfish, but i also want you to keep doing shows because i can see how happy you are.” some days i truly think i don’t deserve him.

i think some key takeaways i got from bright star is that i can dance – and i should encourage myself to lean into that. i really want to hone in on those talents that i have just shrugged off as impossible. i found so much in myself and received so much support and encouragement that i feel like i’ve finally come into my own in musical theatre. this cast, this crew, this staff, and this team will forever hold the place in my heart where i finally learned to fly.

my biggest dilemma now is that this show has so many truly quotable lines, so how can i pick just one to sum it all up? i guess if you have a hard time choosing, that just means you should go with the one that hits closest to home:

you never know what life with bring, only what you bring to life. hopes and dreams and fine imaginings, they happen in their own good time.

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