Well, it’s here!
Tomorrow night is finally opening night for ANNIE! And I couldn’t let this day go by without a blog shout-out to my daughter, Kelly. Tomorrow night, she will walk out onto a stage in front of a room full of people and say her first spoken line in a show ever.
Her first spoken line. And she’s Annie!
I am blown away by the transformation I’ve seen in my little girl over the past few months of Annie rehearsals. This is the girl who only showed up for auditions in hopes of possibly being one of the orphans (hopefully with no spoken lines), or maybe even just to help backstage like she has done in a few shows in the past. When she was cast as Annie, she was almost in tears. And not the happy kind either. I’m talking more along the lines of the “Oh-my-gosh-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into-help-momma-get-me-out-of-this” kind.
And I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t so sure she could do it either.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I absolutely knew she was capable of it. The girl has got a beautiful singing voice and can dance like nobody’s business. And she looks the part, without a doubt. But to have the courage to get up in front of all of these people and act? I just wasn’t so sure. She’s always been a “behind the scenes” kind of kid when it came to theatre. I was the actor and she was the kid who would tag along with her mom to watch.
I remember taking her to her first professional theatre show (which was Annie, no less – at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia). At one point, after being mesmerized myself by the phenomenal performance taking place in front of me, I glanced over to see Kelly’s reaction to the show. And what was she doing? The little thing was turned around backwards in her seat staring up at the lighting booth and the spotlight operator. She was so much more interested in how they were making the show, rather than the show itself. Yep, she loved theatre – but in a much different way than her momma did. She wasn’t just interested in the acting. She fell in love with the process.
And now here she is – the lead role in the summer musical.
It still seems so surreal to me. It has been amazing watching her come out of her shell. She didn’t just peep her head out from the shadows to see what was happening on the stage. She made a huge, flying leap right into the spotlight. And let me tell you – this is where she belongs. And I think she’s starting to see that too. All she needed was a little confidence.
And this brings me to the point I’m really trying to make with all of this.
I’m so incredibly proud of my daughter. I mean, what mom wouldn’t be? But that pride doesn’t come from the fact that she’s Annie. Yes, she has learned to control her beautiful voice and sing songs that she thought she couldn’t manage just a few short months ago. Yes, she has studied hard and learned her lines and rarely misses a beat. Yes, she has done all of the things that make her a great little actress and has come a very long way since that scared little girl was given the news that she was going to be Annie. But none of that is what makes me the most proud.
What makes me the most proud is watching as her confidence and ability soars to new heights, and yet her ego and humility have not budged.
She is the most gracious, most appreciative kid I think I’ve ever seen. She takes compliments from people with a shy sweetness that does not indicate one little ounce of arrogance. She sent out a mass email to the cast and crew last night thanking everyone for their hard work – from the make-up ladies to the costume maker and everyone in between. She has learned first hand how much work it takes to create something this spectacular, and she appreciates each and every minute detail that has been put into making the show a success. That’s something a lot of actors never take the time to see. (I know I’ve been guilty of it myself at times. Too often, actually.)
To excel at something, even attain a bit of greatness at it, and yet still maintain a humble heart? That is something that is very hard to do. It takes a special kind of person for that. I think we could all learn a lesson or two from my little Annie.
And, in closing, I want to mention one more proud momma moment.
I too am in the show. And last night – our second-to-last dress rehearsal before opening night – I felt completely miserable. What is probably an ear and sinus infection (who has time or money to go to the doctor?) hit its peak last night and my body refused to cooperate any further. For the first time in my career as an actor, I had to miss a dress rehearsal. I couldn’t leave, of course, since I was little Annie’s ride home – so someone suggested that I go lie down on a couch in the lobby. So, I did. I took my feverish self to the lobby and crashed. And no sooner did I lie down, than I was out like a light. I only woke up about three times during the entire performance. And you know why?
Once was when Kelly was bringing me a drink of water.
Another time was when she brought a blanket she found in the dressing room to put over me.
And the final time was when she came to tell me the show was over and that it was time to go home.
There she was in one of her final dress performances in her first starring role, and yet she took every down moment she had between her many costume changes and stage appearances, to come check on her sick mom.
Have I mentioned how proud I am of my daughter? I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I know every mom is supposed to brag on our kids. It’s our job. But in my case? In my case, I’ve got someone pretty special here that calls me Mommy. She is definitely a star – on and off the stage.
So, break a leg, sweet girl! It’s your turn to shine.
“It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way
You always walked a step behind
So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be
I can fly higher than an eagle
Because you are the wind beneath my wings.”
– Bette Midler, Wind Beneath My Wings