Posted: August 08 2012
Helloooo out there-
So much has happened since the last time I was asked to write for the NCT blog, back in September 2008. I was 16 then, working on the Kids on Broadway show Whistle Down the Wind, and I was right in the middle of my time as a student at the Conservatory.
Four years later, I’m a rising senior (graduating early!) at the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University, I have my own house and my own life in Pittsburgh, I made my first appearances in the incredible theatre community there with shiny new credits from Pittsburgh Musical Theater, and I’m graduating in May and then moving to New York City with my best friend in September. I’m pretty sure that if 16-year-old me knew all this back then, she’d say that I got everything I ever wanted.
But the girl that I was then could not have had any way of knowing about the reality checks and magnitude of things I had to learn once I started living in my independence- some having to do with theatre, some not. While on the whole incredibly fun, rewarding, and creatively stimulating, the day-to-day of being a theatre major at a Conservatory is non-stop, demanding 100% focus, stamina, and will 100% of the time. It’s exhausting- physically of course, but also mentally and emotionally. I truly do love it, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, but there were a couple of times this past year that I wondered to myself: “Where did the love go?” Theatre was starting to feel like the daily grind instead of the love of my life.
This is where Tommy comes in.
At the end of April, just as school was ending, I got an email from Ray Walker asking me if I would come back to the Conservatory and play the Gypsy/Acid Queen in their STAS (Summer Theatre Arts School) production of The Who’s Tommy. It took me about five seconds to reply with a yes. I think I told him something like “You guys raised me! I would never tell you no!”
So here I am, writing this during one of our tech rehearsals, surrounded by the next generation of kids who are finding a home here at the Conservatory. It’s so reassuring and inspiring to see the dedication and pure joy that they all get out putting their hearts into this show.
As the Gypsy, my scene is at the end of Act One, so yesterday I sat out in the house and watched the show in full effect: mics, lights, costumes, full set changes, etc. It was so surreal to see Alexis van Venrooy and Daniel Marhelko, whom I’ve known since they were little kids here, now be the leaders and carry a show with confidence and so much spirit. I see the younger kids in the show look up to them the way I once did to my older friends at NCT, wanting to emulate them and work as hard as they did. There’s Julie at the piano, making sure everyone’s enunciating (Consonants! Always consonants!), there’s Tito sitting a few rows up from me, keeping a watchful eye and occasionally getting up to adjust people here and there, and Ray takes notes from a seat down front. In the middle of it all, there are the kids on stage pouring their all into the show. De Ann Jones (NCT Founder) once said something about how the best part of seeing student theatre is watching kids “find their light.” Now I know she was absolutely right. This is their moment, their time, and I’m so excited to see them go all out and take the show to a new level once we start the run.
Love for theatre? It lives here.
Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots.