The question came out of the blue. My wife and I had volunteered to help with Hanover High School’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” five years ago because our daughter was one of the elementary school students taking part in some scenes.
So we joined in as bodies for the background in lieu of leaving Bridget alone in the high school auditorium during rehearsal. As we sat there one night before rehearsal, George Matthew – “Mr. George” of library fame – approached me with the offer I never anticipated.
He had a couple of openings due to people pulling out of the play, and he wanted me to fill one of them.
I deflected at first for a variety of reasons. First of all, this was a high school play and, even though the cast featured a handful of adults to make it a district-wide effort, I just felt out of place. Secondly, I had a trip coming up for work so would miss about a week of rehearsal time.
Lastly, and most importantly, I had no idea what to do on stage.
Growing up, I participated in the programs we had to take part in at my parochial school. The only one I really remember was a holiday program that included – I swear to God – eighth-grade students acting out popular commercials in between the other grades singing Christmas carols.
I was cast in a mouthwash commercial. I remember all of this for two reasons, three if you count the fact that I always remember really weird events in life.
I remember that there was much discussion over whether the boys and girls in the commercial would actually kiss like they actors did in the real commercial. We didn’t. I also remember that someone dropped a bottle of Listerine in the hallway as we prepared to go down to the gym. That stank to high heaven.
These memories rushed back to me as Mr. George cajoled me onto stage that night during rehearsal, promising me I was just standing in for the night and could decide for real after my work trip. In actuality, there was no decision. I couldn’t let Mr. George down.
We just passed the five year anniversary of that show, which packed the HHS auditorium for three performances. I ended up having one of the best times I could remember and ended up taking the chance at some Hanover Little Theatre auditions a few months later.
That led to five years of annoying people about coming to see me in my shows at HLT. That led to some wonderful new friendships. That led to realizing that so many opportunities exist out there if you just take a chance.
We have a community filled with civic groups and service organizations and performance groups just dying to get some new blood. Don’t worry if you have an upcoming trip for work or if you have never done it before.
If I can get up there and pretend to be a dog owner like I did this month in our production of “Sylvia” at HLT (and shame on you who didn’t come – we had a blast), then anything is possible.