Annie Update

Production is fast approaching, people. We have our first show May 4th. And let me tell you, we are all feeling the pressure of our looming deadline.

I'll start with Lexi. She was cast as a chorus orphan. She's in all the scenes with the orphans and sings all the songs, but she doesn't have any speaking lines. She is the smallest person in the whole play. She sometimes watches the play and forgets to be in the play. But, she's SO much better than when we started. She has even learned a dance routine and has a mop as her prop. I think by show time, she'll be pretty great.

In addition to all of the orphan scenes, she is also a chorus member in one other number: NYC. We are actually in it together. I don't interact with her since I'm with Warbucks and Annie, but it's been fun to see her make her own friends and perfect her part in the number.

She's learned and mastered a lot of choreography for a youngster without any prior training. She runs through her routines in her head when we are not at rehearsal and makes a concerted effort to do her best. I think she's done a great job taking the direction she's received and applying it so the next run through is right on her part. I have to admit she is freakin' cute when she's up there.

She has become pretty responsible, too, throughout this adventure. She packs up her own things for rehearsal, brings all of her own props, her water, snacks and makes sure she has on the appropriate clothing, too. She also pays attention pretty well for being at the theater for 3 hours every night most nights. The little girls are usually done before the adults, but Lexi always begs to stay and watch us old people rehearse. She knows ALL of the songs and most of the choreography to them even though she's not in the scenes. She's never had a melt down or tantrum, even on the latest of nights. I'm really proud of her.

The director and cast have taken really good care of Ms. Lexi. If she seems bored, someone will always sit with her and make her feel welcome. When she stays late, the director will come over, sit on the floor, and talk to her, read with her, share treats, etc. The older orphans (which is everyone) treat her like royalty and are very patient with her when she has a little girl moment. I'm actually quite humbled by how kind these strangers (and now almost family, really) have been to us.

Now, for me and my part. No one has told me I suck yet. I've even had a lot of encouragement and pats on the back. That is good. I, however, feel like I'm always a little short of where I should be. And my stage fright is still overwhelming. Every time someone new comes into the theater to observe, I get nervous all over again. I start sweating and shaking and I forget my lines. I think I've done a (somewhat) decent job of faking it at times, but I've fallen flat on my face at others.

We started running the play from start to finish this week on the big stage. Holy cow, was it rough the first two nights. I was on the verge of tears as my lack of star quality was evident to everyone there. I felt awful for letting down my cast mates and the director, too. We (me) were still working scenes that we (I) should have had buttoned up.

But, seeing it in one solid piece did help me put it all together. Last night, we went through Act 1 again and it was actually pretty dang good. I flubbed up pretty bad at one point, but got back on track and all-in-all it was promising. When I'm asked if I think I'll be able to pull it together by show time, my answer is always, "I don't have any other option but to pull it together!" By show time, I will know my lines. I will sing my guts out. And I'll even smile while I do it.

People have been asking me if I'm having fun. Truth is: I'm not quite sure. I really like the group of people I'm with every night. I have fun with them. I get a chance to socialize, laugh, be with Lexi, see my friends and even some of my family. I've rubbed shoulders with the people who are involved in the community and made a lot of good connections. But, I feel so inadequate that I don't think I've had a chance to enjoy being "Grace". I'm still very worried about my shortcomings and insecurities.

I've never done stage performances before, but I have been a competitor. As an equestrian, I trained daily and "performed" at many shows. I do know that there is a lot of grunt work that goes into making a performance show worthy. I know that the pressure and anxiety can feel all-consuming as D-day approaches. I also know the satisfaction that comes from working hard and winning that blue ribbon at the end of the day. I think I'll have to get through the live performances and look back to see how I really feel at the end of the day.

Oh, the show dates are May 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th. You should go get your tickets at www.atthegrand.org.

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.