Once upon a time, I harbored dreams of seeing my name in lights on Broadway. I would play Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. Oh alright, so Gone With The Wind was never a Broadway show – these are my dreams, so humor me.
I loved having the lead in our high school plays and even, as an adult, venturing onto the stage in one of the earliest Countryside Community Playhouse productions. It was titled Big Rock at Candy’s Mountain and I was Candy. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! Our director was Jack Celoni, long-time English and drama teacher at Algona High. I loved Jack – so did Bing. The product of a Jesuit education in Milwaukee, Jack loved to involve Bing in theological discussions. They both thrived on those talks.
As a director, Jack made being in the play fun, but also a great learning experience. He would expound on the nuances of the dialog, giving each of the actors a unique insight into their roles. It was magical.
Bing knew of my not-so-secret love of the stage, so he valiantly offered to be Mr. Mom to our three daughters, then aged 5, 3 and 1, night after night while I sailed off to rehearsals. It was a lovely interlude in my life, but when it was over, I decided I would rather go back to my role as a mom for the next few years. Decades, actually, as our three offspring became five and then part of my time was taken up playing newspaper person.
Last week, I came out of theatrical retirement. It happened in the World Day of Prayer service which was held at St. Cecelia’s church this year. It’s an ecumenical program designed to bring people of all faiths together to pray for the earth we inhabit. I had a small part in a skit that was written into the program. I was Woman Three. I had four speeches. To my horror, I had no luck memorizing my lines. My memorizing gene has deserted me. Totally.
I had to rely on cue cards, which was something of a challenge since I had to hold a microphone in one hand and a sack in the other.
So, dear readers, my dreams of theatrical glory expired with my final role.
Not Laura, not Annie, not Scarlett.