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It’s my Candy Store!: The Small Delights of Being a Theater Person

The Thespian Thoughts blog posts are meant to be a college student’s point of view on various topics in the world of theater to educate all on what encompasses this particular area of the arts.

From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like the best part of theater for theater people is the big spectacle of putting on a show. While performing and taking in applause from the audience during the curtain call does give me a cloud 9 feeling, there are actually lots of small things I like about being a theater person that bring me so much much joy that I feel like a kid in a candy store.. So I thought I’d take the time to highlight some of my personal tiny delights.

Using the lingo/Conversing through references: Like all industries,theater comes with its own dictionary’s worth of terms and slang. Saying them makes me feel like an  intelligent, artistic professional. For example given the correct context I could say something like “I want a blue pattern wash upstage with the tree gobo, please spike the bench downstage right of the wings” or “tonight is cue-to cue, tomorrow is the sitzprobe”. On the more casual side of things, I often get to converse with my fellow theater people through references to plays and musicals. I could describe someone as being “Eponine levels of friendzoned” or I could ask them if “they are more of a Glinda or Elphaba?” and they will know exactly what I mean. There is a special comradery in being able to speak the same language as someone, especially when that language is theater.

Backstage antics: While what is being done onstage is very important, there is a whole world backstage that has entirely its own culture. Putting on makeup, doing hair, getting into costume. Making sure everything thing is as it should be. Short bursts of silliness between serious determination to do the best show ever. Getting updates as showtime approaches and responding  “thank you twenty” “thank you final bathroom” and inevitably “thank you places”. Giggling when you know you shouldn’t and resorting to pantomime to communicate and overall just looking like a merry band of misfits who just want to spread some joy.

Tony Hype: As Tony season approaches it is always so much fun to discuss with my fellow thespians the possibilities for Broadway’s biggest night. There is always the question of who’s going to host and who is going to be nominated? Who really deserves the award and who is just going to get it because of popularity? What number do you think each nominated show is going to perform? This year I am rooting for Spongebob the Musical to win it all.

Getting hooked on a Cast Recording: When you listen to the cast recording of a show all the way through for the first time and love it. Then re-listen and hear each beat, each instrument doing its thing, each vocal triumph of the performers like milk and butter to your ears. You begin to memorize lyrics and lip sing and eventually attempt to harmonize with it. Listening to it while just relaxing or putting away laundry or even doing homework (which can be a bad idea sometimes if you get too distracted bopping to showtunes as I sometimes do). I myself have been listening to  Heathers the Musical lately on repeat and I just can’t get enough.

Hearing about upcoming shows with performers I admire: Most new musicals that get on Broadway nowadays are ones based off of films (I have thoughts about this but that’s an issue for another blog). When I hear such adaption is in the works, I am interested in hearing about it. I get even more excited when I hear it will star a Broadway actor I genuinely enjoy the past work of. For example, there is a musical adaptation in the works of the film Tootsie, a movie I love that I think can totally work for the stage. Not only that, it is being lead by Broadway, film and television star Santino Fontana who has an excellent voice and acting chops. Hearing that one of my favorite Broadway people is getting work that will most likely get to Broadway is always something that makes me happy as a theater person.

The start of the overture: Perhaps the most visceral moment of being a theater goer is that brief moment when the lights in the house go down and everything gets quiet and then suddenly, the orchestra starts to play and the dark room is filled with music, potential, and the eyes of a crowd about to be taken on a wild ride as the adventure of this performance begins. Even though you can see and hear them, all the people around you, even those you came with, seem to fade away, and it’s just you and whatever universe is about to be presented before you on stage.

So these are a few of my favorite things about being a theater person. If you are one yourself you may know exactly what I am talking about or maybe you have your own things. If you are not, I hope this gave some insight into what makes our dramatic little hearts sing.



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