|My dad singing to me when I was a wee one|
The month after we lost my dad, Learning Stages put on a fundraising event that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the organization. For those of you who do not know, Learning Stages is a non profit theater group that I have been a part of since I was 14. I performed in the chorus mostly, then started helping out with the production side of things, while also acting in one act plays. Finally I taught and directed the childrens’ theater program for 8 years before taking a break to have Evan. I am extremely proud to be associated with this group, I have developed many of my closest relationships through the program and it has helped feed that hunger I have always had for creating art and working with children.
I had been looking forward to the 20th anniversary show for months and months. I knew it would be like a mini reunion with those I had acted with many years before. I also was looking forward to performing again. It had been a long time since I participated in musical theater as a performer. When I told my dad that we were going to be showcasing many of the numbers we had done throughout the years, in addition to other songs- he made a single request. He asked that Joe Salvatore (who he had always called Joey) sing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma as he had the first year I was a part of the organization in 1993. When I brought it up to Joe, he said he had to think about it. Joe is now an NYU professor, director, playwright, speaker, the list goes on. He has come a LONG way since donning the chaps and cowboy hat he wore as Curly in 1992. After my father passed, he made the decision to honor my dad’s request and he did sing it, entering the stage quietly with no music, beginning the song a cappella as he did so many years prior. I stood backstage in the wings biting back tears. I just knew my dad would have given Joey his own personal standing ovation if he could have. He just adored him and he was so thankful that I had joined the group as well.
That evening I sang the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked with another friend from the workshop, Amanda. The lyrics to that song are simple. Yet they say quite a bit. Just yesterday I went on my Facebook profile and noticed that a friend had recently looked at the video of the performance and commented with some hearts. I watched it again and was overcome. Overcome with the feeling that my dad would have been so darn proud of me. I will never forget when he greeted me after my high school performance of “Singing in the Rain,” with tears streaming down his face, he ran up to me in the hallway. He literally ran full speed and hugged me as hard as he could. He sputtered and said he “couldn’t believe that was your voice up there.” “couldn’t believe that was my little girl singing.”
That moment meant the world to me then and it still does. I was very lucky to have a dad who wasn’t afraid to express how he felt about others. I think I have adopted that same fearlessness with most of the people I care about, but I know i could take even more risks in my relationships. I think we could all learn from him in that department.