By AnnMarie Payne
My love for theater began on a family vacation when I was 9 years old. We were on a cruise ship and the talent presented a condensed version of South Pacific. I was completely mesmerized by the story and then there was singing AND dancing. It is hard to explain if you don’t love theater but I felt this thrill and excitement surge through me as I watched this live-action performance in front of me. The next school year I found myself at a school assembly watching the 8th graders do a play. Now I was mesmerized again, because I couldn’t believe kids could get on stage and do this too!
The year was 1982 and my big goal was to be in a play. This was not something my parents knew anything about so it took 3 more years before I found an article about auditioning for a children’s play. My big debut came in the fall of 8th grade in A Christmas Carol with St. Gertrude Players. After this experience I was hooked and participated in 10 plays before graduating from college with a degree in elementary education.
Even though my love for theater never waned, my life got busy with my first real job teaching, completing graduate school, getting married, having babies, and raising kids.
In 2016 I found myself hitting a wall. I was grateful for my amazing life and family but gosh something was missing. Where was I in being a teacher and mother and wife? I needed something for myself; I needed a creative outlet. That’s when I remembered my love for being on stage. With the internet I was able to quickly find several community theaters within 45 minutes of my house.
I researched plays and started to audition, but it did not go well at first. No one knew me, I am not a good cold reader, I suck at accents, and I hadn’t been on a stage in about 20 years. Even though I was frustrated and doubtful I could land a role, I kept trying.
Suddenly, I came across an audition for a play that was set in an elementary school. OK this is familiar territory, hell yes I can be a teacher on stage. The play was called Minus Some Buttons and Rosedale Community Players was putting it on. I was hoping for the small teacher role with less than 10 lines. Instead I was cast as the school secretary Myrtle; a strong supporting role. At first I really freaked out. Could I really pull this off working full time, still parenting, AND memorize lines? Turns out I can, like any theater project it slowly comes together.
You have to trust the process especially when you have a dedicated cast and awesome directors. Yes, Barb I will always love and appreciate you for pulling me out of that bathroom and nudging me back on that practice stage. Eric, you made my heart soar when you smiled at me and said, “you’re one of us now.” I was a complete stranger to this group yet given an opportunity to breathe life back into my creative arts soul.
Almost 7 years later I absolutely adore this group. Life still keeps me busy so I might work a show backstage or maybe only have time to be an usher and cheer for my peeps on stage. Then, every so often, a script comes along that speaks to me and I cross my fingers and audition. If you get that tingle of excitement while watching or participating in live theater I highly recommend you check out RCP!