Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 3, 2012

Curtain Call: Storybook Musical Theatre

Everyone has spent at least part of their lives searching for a place to belong—figuring out where they “fit.” Writers especially seem to have struggles with this. Most writers I know have had periods of great loneliness or confusion trying to find their place in the world. To this day I often feel like the proverbial square peg in the round hole. Perhaps this is why most writers make good observers of human nature—we spend a lot of time watching other people.

But there was a time, as my college career drew to a close, where I was a part of something bigger than myself, and found a place to belong. That time was my time with Storybook Musical Theatre.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Storybook Musical Theatre, it is a professional Equity children’s musical theatre. At the time of its founding, it was the only one outside the Philadelphia city limits. They produce 1-hour children’s musicals adapted from fairy tales and other children’s classics. (If you have kids and are in the Philadelphia area, go see a show—they’re fun and fabulous!) But starting any theater from scratch is a huge gamble, and a children’s theater even more so.

Twenty years ago, in spite of all the risks, Patricia and Marc Goldberg broke their children’s theater away from the Cheltenham Center for the Arts and struck out on a grand adventure.

I was lucky enough to go with them, and be a small part of building a wonderful, innovative, and warm theater company.

For those of you who have never been part of a live theater company, it is difficult to explain the level of camaraderie that builds between members—especially when the same people carry over working from show to show. It does become like a family—a place where you can be bold, be confident, be yourself…and be safe.

The people of Storybook (cast and crew alike), were always friendly and open. Other theater companies may experience backstabbing and the like, but in my time with Storybook nothing ugly like that reared its head. I could be my awkward self and be accepted. They valued intelligence and hard work, which built my confidence enormously. We sweated together, laughed together, and created entire worlds together.

I had finally found a place where “fitting in” didn’t mean pretending to be something I wasn’t.

I eventually parted ways with Storybook, seeking more financial stability than the theater life could offer me. My path led through video production, administrative positions, writer, wife, mother. I do not regret the road I traveled.

Yet, when I attended Storybook’s 20 year anniversary, I could not help but want to jump back into the theater. The dinner and revue was held at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts, where Storybook had been born all those years ago.

Walking in those doors was like coming home. Normally, an affair like that would bring on a panic attack, but this time I was confident. I explored the backstage area, slipping through the stage door I had entered so often—the stage door that always had made me feel special, because I was a part of the show and those on the other side of the door were not.

I stood for a few moments hidden in the dusty black curtains of stage right. Breathing the familiar air. Wrapped in the comforting darkness.

Remembering.

Once upon a time, there was a place where I belonged…

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I totally understand your feelings @ the theater, Kerry, I always wanted to do acting but it never seemed feasible given my musical abilities, which took me to a different place. When I got my Masters, I was able to be the assistant conductor for the opera company at West Virginia University for a show they performed, I was in the background, all in black and felt very much at home, I got to conduct a couple of rehearsals, very thrilling! Check out my boy chorister on facebook…. see you soon!

    Like

  2. Beautifully written. I’ve never had the privilege of being part of a live theater company. My town used to have a “little theater.” The actors and actresses acted because they loved it rather than because it was their career. I always thought about trying out, but never found the courage.

    Like

    • Oddly enough, in school I had the courage to try out, but didn;t get a role and was relagated to a tech position. Turns out I loved being a techie and was much better at it than I ever would have been as an actor!

      Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: