by Melissa Face
Published in Prairie Times – July 2018 http://www.prairietimes.com/currentissue.pdf
I recently woke up from a dream in which I was starring as Miss Hannigan in a local production of the musical Annie. I messaged my friend, Dawn, that morning and told her jokingly that it must be a subconscious hint for a new venture and that maybe I should give acting a try.
A few minutes later, Dawn responded, “I just got in my car to go to lunch, turned on my radio, and Jay Z’s “Hard Knock Life” was playing. No lie.”
“It’s totally a sign!” I wrote back.
“Right? What else could it mean!?”
I don’t have a background in musical theatre. I’m neither an actress nor a singer, unless you count the kitchen productions I’ve starred in to entertain my children while they eat breakfast. But if those do count, I’ve played Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Roxie from Chicago, Sandy from Grease, and of course, all of the characters from my favorite musical of all time, Annie.
Even though my current audience is comprised of only two members, I don’t hold back. I give them a full show, complete with choreography, props, and all the enthusiasm and stage presence a tired mom can muster. And they’re worth it. They applaud and cheer; I’ve even had a few standing ovations.
My son, Evan, is most complimentary. “Mom, you are a really great performer,” he says. “You need to be in a for real show.”
This kid is the sweetest. And I like to think that he has great taste, but he also tells me I look beautiful in my bath robe. Still, with so many critics in the world, every aspiring actress can use someone like Evan to keep her spirits soaring.
My obsession with Annie is one that stems from childhood. I can recall watching the movie for the first time in complete awe. I was terrified of Punjab, Daddy Warbucks, and Miss Hannigan. Annie, on the other hand, quickly became my idol.
I dressed as Annie for Halloween one year, complete with a blue cardigan, heart locket and a horrible orange wig that I received as a birthday gift. I still have the locket; the wig had to go. I also had an Annie purse, nightgown, lunch box and a few other accessories. I was the ultimate fan.
While it would have been amazing to have played Annie in my younger years, that dream is one that I can no longer entertain. But what about Miss Hannigan? That could still be a possibility.
I can see myself lounging around the house in a silk robe and costume jewelry. Relaxing in the bath tub? You betcha. Shouting orders at children? I already do that every day! I am the ideal Miss Hannigan!
I do love the idea of starring in a production, but the reality of it is terrifying. I haven’t been onstage since I was a junior in high school. And I’ve certainly never sung onstage. I would probably forget my lines, sing off-key and eventually pass out from sheer embarrassment.
I’m much more comfortable performing in my own home, with my own small, yet appreciative audience. I crave the applause of tiny hands and the cheers of little voices who simply adore their mother’s version of “Little Girls” and how I change the lyrics to fit the most recent annoying thing my kids have done.
They love my singing and silly accents…for now. The day they stop clapping for me will be the day I seriously entertain the idea of a larger venue and a new audience. I may have no choice but to audition for the role of my favorite female villain. But first, I have to make these kids clean my floors… until they shine “like the top of the Chrysler Building!”