Magnolia: The game of just supposing is the sweetest game I know. Our dreams are more romantic than the world we see…
It’s been quite some time since I’ve last written and for a good reason – I have been blessed with being part of two incredible productions back-to-back down here in Arizona. Only a few weeks ago we closed a winter run of the iconic Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific and just this last weekend, have already opened Kern & Hammerstein’s Show Boat. I am endlessly grateful to be doing what I love for such a solid stretch of time.
Now, embarrassment alert. I knew very little about either of these shows before being cast. I knew most of the music and some of the plot of South Pacific and very little about the music or plot of Show Boat (I know, I KNOW). The gift of delving into both at this time in my life just proves that the universe is looking out for me.
The most unexpected of discoveries has only recently occurred, while working through a grueling tech process and an exciting first week of Show Boat. Anybody who knows this show knows that a. It is one of THE most iconic Broadway musicals – the first truly modern musical, in fact. And b. It is an absolute monster of a show. It’s plot spans almost 40 years and typically has a giant cast. Our production is scaled down quite a bit, not including some of the added dance numbers or additional songs from previous revived versions but is still one of the grandest productions of which I’ve been a part. Of course as a dancer first, I lamented from loss of the incredible Charleston finale of the most recent Broadway revival version but now after every performance I am so grateful how much we focus on the heart of this epic story, on the relationships between family, which takes on a multitude of definitions in this show.
It’s easy to complain about constant costume changes, or the typical ensemble member plight of playing seven characters in one production (I nap a lot between shows), and watching other cast members perform beautiful songs you wish you could get a chance to sing. But every time I watch from the wings, or listen over the monitors in the dressing rooms, or get to add my voice to the rest of my gorgeous casts’ onstage, I am constantly being reminded why any of us are crazy enough to do this. There’s something indescribable about the power of love in the story of Show Boat, of its ability to overcome absolutely everything, to allow forgiveness even to those who may not even deserve to be forgiven. It’s such a complex story, and yet so simple a message and has become a lesson I have been trying to relearn every day. As we go into this run I can only hope to continue to grow this story onstage so that this message can reach out to the audiences that come see our show and be incorporated into their own lives.
We live in stressful and tumultuous times, and every day there’s something in the news or on social media or even in daily gossip that seems unforgivable, or unfixable. The world is extremely imperfect, but maybe we should take a hint from Gaylord Ravenal’s character and just make believe for a moment that we have the ability to overcome any adversity and then perhaps one day, we won’t be pretending at all.