The house lights dim. Stage lights up. Spotlights find their way to the stage. The electricity in the air is palpable. The actors' and actress' hearts pulse with excitement and anticipation as they try to remember lines and blocking, all while estimating the size of the audience for the night. The stage manager donned in all black paces back and forth, breaking a sweat over a missing actor. For people like myself, there is nothing like stepping out on that stage and becoming someone new.
I've performed in theatre for almost a decade now. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes live theatre so exhilarating and fulfilling. Maybe it is the opportunity to take on a different persona and live that persona out over a period of time. Maybe it is the scene partners and cast members whom you get to know and love. Maybe it is the positive reinforcement from audience members that we so infrequently receive outside of those moments. Either way, performing in a musical or straight play is intoxicating. There's a reason that so many people "catch the theatre bug."
While theatre is certainly not what it used to be (think of the Golden Age of Broadway, 1950s and 1960s, grand openings), I believe that we are in a resurgence of the relevance of the art form. Like it or not, shows such as Hamilton and Wicked, recent movie musicals such as Into the Woods and Les Miserables, and the refreshing take on musicals like Grease and The Wiz on TV have led to a rediscovery of the brilliance of musical theatre. When written, performed, and crafted precisely, there is arguably no other art form that can tell a story perfectly as theatre can. I can only hope that the revival of live theatre can lead to a rise in participation in and funding of community theatre. While the mediums listed above are wonderful incubators of interest, the reality is this interest plays out in community theatre.
Only in community theatre can you take a naive interest in theatre and develop it into a blossoming life passion. Community theatre does this by immersing you in the experience, giving you a taste of every single thing that brings a show together. From the rehearsal process, to Saturdays building the set, Sundays shopping for costume and prop pieces from Goodwills, and sitzprobes where the orchestra finally puts the music to everyone else's hard work, community theatre is a full-on dive into the chaos and and beauty of musical theatre. Only in community theatre can you truly understand what it takes to put on a show and communicate a story to a live audience. You appreciate more the sweat, blood, and tears that go into every nail hammered, every line toiled over, and every penny spent. You don't know how to work with people until you work on a community theatre production with people who you come to love and dislike with every bit of your being. Community theatre helps build values that everyone involved will hold for the remained of their lives.
Next time you obsess over a Broadway show, seethe in anticipation of the next TV musical, or read about the latest movie adaptation of a musical, satiate that itch with a little community theatre, be it as a patron, as a member of the production team or tech crew, or as an actor or actress. I promise you will not regret it!