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Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Chorus Line...

      I am fortunate enough to be a part of this fabulous cast of A Chorus Line.  It's a Broadway show. It's amazing.  I was home-schooled as a kid (literally, taught at home--a la Little House on the Prairie. No, scratch that--they went to a schoolhouse, I am pretty sure.  But, my parents taught me at home, leaving more time for dancing, music, going on trips-things like that), and one of my biggest regrets was that I didn't get to do a high school musical (not the Disney one, mind you--just any high school musical). Anyway, here I am touring a Broadway show...wow.  I remember going to see Aida on Broadway, probably about four years ago, and thinking, I can do that. I am going to do that. Not in a prideful way--just in an identifying-something-that-is-true kind of way. 

      It's funny though, I am here--doing this thing that I have been hoping for--and already find myself thinking, so what comes next? I think this business makes it easy to always be living in the future--trying to pry open another door while you have a foot in the last one you stepped through.  Part of that is just the nature of going from show to show and is natural.  But, I also want to sit back and realize this.  To be content and grateful--and live in the moment.  So, let me tell you a little bit about what these moments feel like.
      For an 8 o'clock show, I will generally get to the theatre for a warm-up class at 6:15.  I say class very loosely, because it is more like a work-out.  It involves many leg-lifts (our choreographer, who teaches the class, constantly talks about how the show's downward lighting highlights any bit of fat one has on the body.  Enter the leg-lifts), sit-ups of all varieties, push-ups, stretches, and of-course, the staple of every dancer: plies, tendus, and battements, etc. Then, I put on my make-up, make my hair a little more 70's, configure my mic, and put on my tights, leotard, and heels.  I stretch a little more, and do some pirrhouettes, just to make sure I still can (I mean, I've been doing them for many years now, but there is always the irrational fear that once I step on stage, under that downward lighting, I will suddenly forget how to turn. I am convinced that every dancer is a little OCD--either that, or superstitious.  There are certain things I have to do right before I get on stage, or else I am afraid for my performance; even my prayers can feel more like chants or mantras that I say before every show). 
       Once I hear the call of places, I go backstage.  The lights black out and the hum from the audience goes to silence in their anticipation.  I hold hands with the actors on either side of me as we take our places on stage, and without fail I always feel nervously excited and wonder if I am really ready for this.  Before I can answer myself, the lights come up and I am in it.  Ready or not.  I have never been high or drunk, but sometimes I wonder if performing is a kind of amazing escape that is not so different from those.  It's intoxicating--to be able to throw yourself into a living story and entreat others to follow you there.  It's a gift, but it's also a job. Which means that sometimes, it does feel like a job.  I love doing the show, but I don't always feel like doing every kick and I get pretty psyched for a day off too.  But, in all--I love it. I am grateful. 
     

6 comments:

Susan Marie said...

It's so cool to read about the time before a show from the perspective of "the performer". Whenever I have watched a Broadway performance, I have always just figured that the performers on stage are so far beyond any kind of nervousness or excitement. Maybe some of them are, but it's nice to read that you still get a "natural high" from being on stage!

Peaj said...

I did get to do high school musicals. I remember putting on the costume, and the makeup, and doing vocal warmups. My little ritual was mostly getting there super early, and getting ready early, and then having to hang around, and then inevitably there would be some last minute emergency (either mine or someone else's) that meant I was rushed right at the end anyway, no matter how early I got there.

Sometimes I miss theater. I haven't done any since Godspell.

KathieK said...

Jess, I love reading your blog! It is interesting to read your perspective as a performer. I have always wanted to act. When I watch a show (either a play, a movie, or a TV show, it doesn't matter), sometimes I think, "I would have done it this way, said it that way". I remember being concerned sometimes that I would forget my lines whenever we did something at VCF, but it always worked out. I do remember falling through the hole made by our makeshift stage when we did Shepherd's Inc, but thankfully that was while taking our bows, not during the performance!

Lady Leth said...

YAY! I am so glad you are writing--it feels like we are right there with you!

peaj said...

I keep thinking about this post. I think what keeps running through my mind is - that's it? It sounds so - ordinary. I mean, this is Professional Theater. It should be so radically different. You should have strawberries from Spain! Caviar from Russia! Spring water from the Upper Volga region! Personal assistants to whom you say "Darling, be a dear and run and get another strawberry for Ms. Latshaw while she gets into character, will you?"

Another romantic misconception destroyed...

Jessica Latshaw said...

haha, I know what you mean! The other day, when I was at the bank I was talking with one of the tellers and it got around to me being in A Chorus Line--and he acted like I was a rock star; he told me how it wasn't every day that you get to meet someone really living their dream. Which is true. But, what is also true--is that everything does become ordinary, to a certain degree. I mean, we are all just people, getting through the day, doing our best to do what we think is right. But, there are the magical moments--like being on stage and making an audience laugh. Or leaving through the stage door and finding people waiting for your autograph. However, I really don't ever want to forget that there is nothing separating me from the next person--that basically we are all the same. Cause that's what keeps us from going crazy or becoming a diva, I think:-)