I’ve never been a shy girl. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a talker – a girl that, despite having severe inferiority issues (or perhaps because of them), still wants to be the center of attention. It’s probably not surprising that I ended up in a career as a radio announcer, and that I loved my Speech class in high school – but even before that, I longed for the spotlight!
In my elementary school, the 5th and 6th grade classes put on a musical every year. I was incredibly excited when I was old enough to participate – here was my chance to be discovered! My first role, unfortunately, was that of a weed. I vividly remember my green leotard and tights and the little dance I did with the two other weeds (too bad this is not a video, because believe me, it’s something you also would not soon forget!) I don’t remember the name of the musical or the plot, but I DO remember the song I sang (as I did my little dance). It went, “I’m a little weed, growing by a seed, in Gran-ny O’Lea-ry’s Gaaarrrden!” I figured I could just Google that line and the name of that musical would come up – but, no. Instead, these results came up:
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds – Marijuana Growers HQ
If I bury this pot seed will it grow?
How Long Does it Take to Grow Weed?
OK – now I want to know what kind of sick and twisted musical my teacher, Mr. Roberts, actually had us performing! Really! What kind of guy would dress up three little girls in green and turn them into dancing Mary Janes? And who was this Granny O’Leary who was cultivating pot in her garden? I can’t really blame her – who can afford retirement these days? But still, not really appropriate subject matter for a grade school musical (and now I have to go through life with the awful realization that my first big role was that of marijuana).
Unfortunately, things did not get better in the next musical. That year, we were performing the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You probably know the story – a town in Germany is overrun with rats and no one can figure out how to kill them. One day the Pied Piper came a ’calling and tells the town elders that he can lead the rats out of Hamelin if they just pay him a gazillion pieces of gold. The people are desperate and agree – and the Pied Piper plays his pipe, the rats follow, and he does the job as promised, but then the town elders get greedy and decide to renege on the deal. They figure that the deed is done – so what is he going to do if they don’t pay him? That turns out to be a BIG mistake, because the next thing you know, the Pied Piper is tooting his little horn again, but this time the town’s children follow him, never to be seen again.
Hmmmm….not so much a warm, uplifting family musical. I’m just now realizing that Mr. Roberts was a deeply disturbed man that probably shouldn’t have been allowed around children.
Anyway, I auditioned for one of the main roles – that of Katrina Von Winkle, a fair haired visitor to the town. I was rather crushed when I didn’t get that role, and even more distressed to learn that the role I WAS given only had one stanza to sing. To add insult to injury, I had to SHARE the role with another classmate – THEN I found out that of the three performances, I was only going to perform in ONE! I mean, I know show business is hard, but this was ridiculous!
I was incredibly nervous on the night of my performance – but I patted down my crinolines and took my place on stage. The music started, which was my cue to sing, “Katrina Von Winkle is coming to town; I saw her just now from the stage getting down; she had on a lovely new blue and white gown, did Katrina of Hanover City!” Instead – my mind went blank! The music played, and I couldn’t remember one word of my little song. Finally, just at the end, everything came rushing back, but I only had time for a loud “Katrina of Hanover CITY!” and then my time in the spotlight was over.
I can’t describe the crushing feeling of despair that washed over me. It was my ONE and ONLY chance to sing in that year’s musical and I had BLOWN it! I ran offstage and crouched in a dark corner while I sobbed. A few classmates tried to comfort me, telling me it wasn’t so bad. Obviously, they would never have careers as theater critics!
I still cringe a bit when I think about that performance – however, I went on to bigger and better things. I still haven’t starred on Broadway or in a major motion picture made for television, but I still manage to make myself the center of attention as often as I can.