Flashback Friday: Drama Days

Last night I went to my alma mater to see my cousin in her final musical of her high school days Beauty and the Beast. And, once again, I left in a bit of a nostalgic mood remembering my own days on that very stage (ok, so it isn't the EXACT same stage, since they remodeled the auditorium in the latter half of my senior year, but still.) In the spirit of such feelings, I present another Flashback Friday reminiscing about those days.

I started participating in drama as early as middle school - though those productions were low budget, simple 1/2 hour to 45 minute shows. They were fun, but high school is where it all really happened. When I was in high school we did the musical in the fall and a three act style play in the spring.

My freshman year the musical chosen was Guys and Dolls. I auditioned, not really knowing quite what to expect, it was pretty well known that seniors got leads and everyone else was pretty much relegated to "chorus". I just wanted to be in the show, I didn't really care what my part was. Well, I was actually chosen as a more prominent chorus member because I was given the part of a Hot Box Dancer. To date, this may still be the most fun I have had in any role I've played. If you are familiar with the show, you know that the Hot Box Dancers...well...they strip on stage. And yes, we kept it clean, but we did that number. We had a fantastic costumer who sewed us lovely pink gowns that were held together with Velcro - easy removal. We all bought little lacy, but appropriate undergarments to wear underneath. I'll never forget at our first dress rehearsal when it came time for that number, the director asked the entire cast besides us to go sit in the audience and unknown to us, she asked them to whistle and holler at us. We laughed SO HARD. We had to run through that number probably three times before we could do it without laughing - but I tell you, the director was smart in doing that, we were more than prepared to do it for the actual performance.

The spring play my freshman year was Fame. It was a "non-musical" performance of it - and quite frankly, I didn't enjoy it all that much. It more or less followed the 1980 movie, though tamed down a bit for high school aged performers (think no controversial moments and such). I played Hilary, the stuck up dancer who transfers in halfway through the year. It was my least favorite role - and for some reason, one of our costume/design directors thought it would be fun to try and turn Hilary into some sort of wild and crazy snob instead of a regular snob. So I wore really flashy clothes and they crimped my hair before every performance. Crimped. I have thick hair. I basically had a fro. There's no nicer way to say it. My fellow cast mates liked to tease me about it. It was kind of ridiculous.

Sophomore year found us doing Oklahoma for the fall musical. I was so excited about this show, but in the end didn't enjoy it as much as I had wanted to. This was due to two things, first off, I was "dating" that guy I've talked about before, whom I call "B" and I was pretty distracted due to that fact. Secondly, I had originally been cast as a chorus member, which I was fine with, but when the girl cast as "Gertie" ended up dropping out due to mouth surgery, I was suddenly put into that role. You know how I said earlier that it was usually seniors who got leads? There was another senior girl who didn't have a lead that all the others thought should have been cast as "Gertie" instead of me. And therefore, I wasn't treated terribly kindly from that point on. Still, I gave it my best and I did a pretty impressive annoying high pitch giggle squeel. I didn't get to sing in as many numbers though and I missed that.

Our spring play that year was much more fun and by then I was done with "B" and already dating Nate if you can believe that! We did a set of three short plays called The Princess Plays and they were fun, fairytale type stories. My favorite of the three was about three witches who make some mistakes with some spells and end up bringing popular princesses to their cave, all of whom just want to find "The Prince". I played Sleeping Beauty. There was also Cinderella, Snow White, The Princess and the Pea and Beauty of Beauty and the Beast. It had some very funny moments, including yours truly getting to fall asleep and snore on stage. I actually have the script for these plays....naughty me somehow never turned it in. Whoops.

Junior year things were shook up a bit when our normal director decided she wanted to step down. It looked like drama wasn't happening - until an outside person was hired and brought in just a little bit into the year. We ended up performing The Music Man and it was probably the best of the performances I was in during high school and the most "professional". The director was kind of a weenie, not going to lie, but he was good. He knew his stuff. And he turned many kids into dancers and the entire thing was quite impressive. I was "Alma Hix" one of the "Pick-A-Little" ladies and I had a blast in that role. Quite a tongue twister to sing that song, but it was fun to perform. I am the most proud of that show I think.

In the spring we did Harvey. I think I'm secondly most proud of this one. I had the female lead - "Veta Simmons" who is the sister of the delusional "Elwood" who sees the rabbit. I remember my parents took me to a hat shop downtown to find the perfect old fashioned "Veta" hat and it was very impressive - black with these feathery things - we still have that hat somewhere. It was awesome. It was a very small cast, but we had a good time, I have very fond memories of that show.

Finally, senior year, it again looked like drama maybe was done, as we had no director again. Fortunately though two individuals stepped up and helped us put together something unique. Because the auditorium was slated to be torn apart and remodeled in the late winter, we decided to send it off with a bang. The result being something called Remember When: 25 Years in Review. It was a celebration of the musicals performed at Heights for the 25 years prior to January 2000. We performed songs and gave little talks on each of the various years. Hours were spent contacting alumnae and getting stories and memories to share. The sets were simple and in terms of production value, it was pretty low budget over all, but it was a fun show to do and appropriate send off. My favorite moments in that show were singing "I Have Confidence" as Maria from the Sound of Music and filling in as a guy and singing "Luck be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls with the boys.

The spring that year a mystery theatre style dinner show was performed at Murzyn Hall, but I opted out of that show because I had a job and was mere weeks from graduation and kind of ready to step down and move on.

I look back on those days very fondly - not only for the fun of performing and being on stage, but from the camaraderie backstage - playing cards, talking, and goofing off with the other cast members, partying it up at cast parties when the show wrapped, making memories. In my opinion, these were the best moments of high school. If you made it this far, thanks for indulging me on my long trip down memory lane!


Gina said...

Awesome post!! I loved doing the Music Man! That was my favorite. Although I stopped doing musicals because I was kind of shunned during them. Oh well. I look back on them with great fondness!

Julie said...

For some reason, I never did a school play. I just didn't have the guts to sing, dance and act in front of other people. I love to sing now, but still have stage fright when it's just karaoke. And after reading Gina's post, she might have had a better experience if I was there for her to lean on and have fun with. There are a lot of things I would do differently, but I would never go back to high school. NEVER!