Just after this year’s Tony Awards, I fell back in love with the theatre. It didn’t particularly have anything to do with the show itself, although I did enjoy watching. No, what happened was in the two and a half weeks afterward, I saw three shows. Which was three more than I’d seen in the six years before that combined. And I found myself wondering why. And that requires some backstory.
I grew up on musical theatre. My mother loved shows like Cats and Les Miserables, and though my tastes run a little more towards “quirky,” the passion was ingrained when I was young. I had, and to an extent still have, terrible stage fright, so it was high school before I got involved in theatre myself. After two painful attempts at acting, I made an easy transition into the world of tech. Looking back, that’s when everything started to go wrong.
I was a really good stage manager. That’s not cockiness, it’s confidence in my abilities. But in my particular theatre program, the actors didn’t interact with the crew, and the crew didn’t entirely accept me because I had started as an actor. The beginning of a recipe for disaster. But I was good enough to be accepted to a very choosy university stage management program, and I thought everything would be different. Better. Yeah, I was delusional. Despite being good at it, I never had the mindset to stage manage on a large scale. And as I found myself slipping into the world of sound and lighting design (and an eventual change of major), not only did I not fit in with the actors, I was no longer wanted by the stage managers either. The sound design program was still in its infancy, and I had no one.
To make the situation more difficult, I was discovering that I was unusual in my love of musicals. The other theatre students, both actors and technical, did nothing but make fun of musical theatre. It was viewed as a punishment to receive a musical as an assignment. And though I kept trying to love it, it was getting harder. I started to refuse to admit when I went to see a show, because everyone has their limit of being made fun of, and I had reached mine.
It seemed that no matter what I did, I would never be accepted by the group. Between being an outcast among the only people I had anything in common with and an almost two year streak of miserable performance experiences, by the time I graduated I never wanted to deal with the theatre again. If you had looked up “burnt out” in the dictionary that year, you might have seen me.
So I gave up. I stopped going to shows, and just held on until I graduated at the end of the semester. And that was my last involvement in theatre until June 2011. I had been introduced to a stunningly gorgeous song from Catch Me If You Can a few months before that, and when my best friend and I decided to break my lack of theatre streak, that was the show we chose. This won’t be a review of that show (that’s coming… at some point in the hopefully near future), but Catch Me If You Can reopened the floodgates. In the two and a half months since then, I’ve seen seven shows, including multiple return visits to Catch Me.
So now I’m back to the original question. What changed? The answer: I have no idea. But whatever it was, I’m glad it happened.