(extra)ordinary days

i’m still processing all the emotions i have from this incredible experience. last night we closed, but in some ways it feels like i’m still going to go out there and be deb again. but i guess that to properly talk about everything, i should start at the beginning.

back in march, while we were still rehearsing heavily for bright star, one of my castmates asked me a very random question, “if i send you a song to learn, would you record yourself singing it and send it to me?” in that moment, my interest was piqued, but i didn’t realize that one question would dictate the next ten months of my life. before i knew it, jessi got the ball rolling to make ordinary days happen. things started falling into place one after another, the cast, partnering with nova nightsky theatre, and then finalizing dates. it was a lot of waiting and then rushing, but that made it all the more thrilling.

i instantly fell in love with the chaotic deb. there were so many ways i connected with her, and this was my first time getting to be a musical lead, so my excitement couldn’t even be measured. unlike when i was hero, i felt that my role was extremely pivotal and stood out. (no offense to shakespeare, but hero was pretty two demensional.) it was a whole new challenge, with really technically difficult pieces and more character work than i expected.

i had a lot of hesitations and doubts with being precast. i mean, did i even really earn this role? could i do deb the justice she deserved when perhaps there could have been a better fit? i felt so much imposter syndrome that, although i identified so much with deb, i wasn’t confident in being her until much further along in the process. up until now, i always felt my dreams of being a lead in a musical was so lofty – i was content being in ensemble and backing up people that i felt were real stars. this role made me feel more hungry, and that in and of itself made me more nervous.

once we started tackling rehearsals and really dug into character work, did i finally start to feel more secure. as we started to discuss the impact and importance of each character and how they related to each other, i began to feel that i was equipped to do this. during that time dissecting the show, we even took the time to say what we’re most excited about. one of my castmates said, “i’m excited because i think this show will be really good because it was so well cast.” in that moment i felt acknowledged, and i felt a fire in my spirit. i’d always felt that my three other counterparts were the perfect fit for their roles, but what about me? so many of my worries lifted and i was ready. i don’t think i could have grown so much as an actress and singer without the rest of the cast supporting and pushing me. sabrina’s direction, josh’s critiques and praises, jake’s comforting silliness, jessi’s encouragement, and aj being an excellent show partner in every way, i was definitely spoiled.

as we trekked onward, i became more and more comfortable. the fact that we were opening on my birthday was such a surprising delight and i hoped that it would help mitigate the impending birthday blues that i got every single year. small pieces kept coming together one by one by one, and my anticipation kept mounting! i had so much fun making props, breathing life into music with people i love, and learning my limits. i unfortunately got sick, twice, in the span of our rehearsals and run. a lingering cough, that included coughing fits i couldn’t control, and a sudden wave of fever with a head cold taught me a lot about myself and my body. i took for granted that the last time i was singing such technical music i was much younger, and could bounce back much more quickly (not to mention deb herself was physically exhausting). if you don’t make time to rest, your body will very much make it for you. my enthusiasm had me running at full speed without pausing, so of course i inevitably shut down. i realized how important it is to take care of yourself.

before i knew it, it was opening night and my twenty-ninth birthday. i was so busy advertising the show and working to get to full health, that even if my birthday blues crept in, i didn’t notice it. opening night was beyond my wildest expectations. a thursday night show typically doesn’t yield a large audience, but i was utterly moved when most of the audience that night were my friends who had come to support me and wish me a happy birthday. the production team even took a moment to have everyone sing to me at the end of the show, which was overwhelming in all the best ways. the first weekend included so many flowers i actually ran out of vases by saturday night. i can say, resolutely, that this was the best birthday of my entire life.

the second weekend was just as magical as the first, and mercifully, included just one pre-potted plant (which in light of my vase panic, was a relief!) by that point we had all found a rhythm back stage and our own little routine leading up to the show. between my electric kettle, gummy bear tea, singing our favorite harmony parts, and taking time to say something in ordinary life that is special to us, i came to cherish every moment more and more. the green room easily became one of my favorite places. being fully accepted for the quirky person i am was also so very comfortable and warm. my love for the cast, crew, and production team cannot possibly be put into mere words. each person taught me something very special during the course of the ten months and for that i am forever grateful.

the production overall was very minimalist and i found a new appreciation for how awe-inspiring theatre is. we were able to create so much out of so little, which i was immensely proud of. our show even was reviewed by dc theatre arts, a prominent publication in the area. if i had a big picture on how i thought everything would unfold, the result was so much better. closing night i truly felt was my best performance, and a profound calm washed over me as i said goodbye to the show.

it would be extremely amiss to not take a moment to thank every person who came to support me for such an important moment in my musical theatre life. from tony’s parents who drove down to see me, my family all taking time to attend despite their busy schedules, to friends who travelled near and far for my brief moment in the spotlight, loved would be an understatement. and of course, my number one fan and greatest supporter, my husband, was who gave me the strength to power through even when i was worn down and tired. my heart is so incredibly full.

to sabrina, jaclyn, adam, ward, josh, jake, aj, and jessi. thank you for believing in me. our team was small yet mighty and i wouldn’t have it any other way. but most of all jessi, who started it all, your vision for this rag-tag bunch became a reality because for beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.

with that, i bid a very fond farewell to deb. while so many joked that when i played her, i wasn’t “really acting,” i think that’s only because she and i were so alike. deb taught me so many things about myself, her perpetually-stressed yet ambitious tenacity gave me a new perspective on myself. i now feel a confidence in my talents that i’d always yearned for. she inspired me in more ways than i could possibly express.

and although saying goodbye is hard, i know that deb is in my heart saying, “you’re allowed to move on, it’s okay.”


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