Last week my eldest made his stage debut in the Launceston Musical Society production of "Oliver". It was an amazing show, with a huge cast, and over the last 3 months it has been rehearsed and organised with military like precision. The experience, for J and for all of us, has been inspirational.
It has been quite a journey. I booked J into the initial audition without asking him. Knowing the production was coming up, I made a mother-style executive decision. And I informed him that he was attending only 2 hours before the audition started. You might think this a little unfair but it was a precautionary measure, as I sensed that the anxiety of aniticipation might overwhelm him otherwise. Like many of us, young and old, he fears change. and the unkown. We arrived at the audition with me still telling him "Oh no its not an audition, its just a workshop. It'll be fun." He complained and protested,
"I don't wanna be in a show. I'm not getting up on stage. I don't want a special part, Muu-uu-um! I can't believe you are making me do this " et cetera et cetera. But, under protest, in he went, signed up and then disappeared into the audition room full of fear and excitement.
Three hours later, I returned to pick him up and I was a little bit nervous. I was having doubts that I had pushed it too far this time. "Maybe he does know his own mind best. Maybe I'm just living out my own missed opportunities" and so on my worries worried. However, I was confident that we had not plucked this idea out of thin air. The lad has been singing for as long as he could speak. His rendition of "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin when he was less than two was breathtaking. And when I hear him sing the Glee versions of 'One Love' or 'The Only Exception' in the car, I tear up, every time.
When he finally emerged from the fate that I had condemned him too, he was beaming.
"How was it J?" I tentatively ventured.
He looked into my eyes, I held my breath and he whispered, "Heaven!"
"Mum, I really hope I get a part."
The process, for him, has been like training for a 10 km run (I was going to say marathon, but I have no idea what that would be like). It has been three or more months of dedicated all day Sunday rehearsals and a few long evenings and for the last few weeks its been 7 hour days and late nights. Not to mention the repetition, the doubts, nerves, boredom, frustration and thrill. It's been quite a wild ride.
We had to workshop him through the bit in the middle, when he stared to protest and wanted to drop out. I again questioned my judgement at this point. Along the lines of "Is it too much for him? Is he too young? Are they not taking care of him? Has he not made any friends?" Against my desire to contain my helicopter mother tendencies, and in order to find out what the problem was, I asked the director if I could sit through a rehearsal with him. Parents were usually strictly forbidden. The Director was extremely supportive and so along I went. I am so glad I did. Happily, I discovered that he did not, in fact, hate every minute of it and was not dying of boredom. He was sitting with his eyes glued to the performance for hours and burning with frustration that he hadn't got the part of the Artful Dodger or one of his gang, as they had so much more time on stage. A true thespian. Appropriately, for 'Oliver' it was not less he wanted, but more.
Despite the ups and downs, protests and frustrations he did it. He committed to a long and challenging project. He performed as an orphan in an outstanding show and discovered the love, the applause, the camaraderie and adrenaline of the theatre.
Now, I would never say to him " I told you so."
And I am overflowing with pride.