“Stage Mother” Club

Earlier this year I began watching one of my favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance  and realized they threw a monkey wrench in the traditional format, and in lieu of 18-30-year-olds, this was So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation featuring 8-13 years old dancers.

Initially, I thought this would be great to watch with my six-year-old daughter who loves to dance, only I quickly saw this show was a shortcut to waterworks. I abandoned the season after the auditions because I was never in the mood to cry for an hour. Witnessing the tremendous artistry, performance, and perseverance these kids left on the stage was mind blowing. What got me most was the parents.

They’d sit backstage and I could feel them not breathing. I could see them clenching their fists, watching every jump, twist, leap across the stage because they had it memorized along with their children. They sat at the end of their seat and prayed silently to their dance gods that their son or daughter would land each step. When the audition was over, they would breathe again, often with tears in their eyes because they knew how much their child wanted this, and how hard they rehearsed for this, and how much passion and guts they exhibited and they’re still kids.

Now my son wants to be an actor and just finished a major role in his first high school play. There’s even a two-page spread in the school newspaper dedicated to the production. (Yes, his first clipping.) As soon as I arrived at his show, I got butterflies. I sat in the audience, a few feet from the performers I sensed my son’s energy. I wanted to go up and hug him, hold him and try to convey how proud I was no matter what he did. I was proud because he loved something so much and worked so hard on it. Because he put his passion and his heart and soul into it. Because he took criticism, which is difficult for any human, let alone a teenage boy, and adjusted based on the criticism, and had a better performance. Because he supported his castmates and was a true team member. Because he helped construct and take pride in the Broadway-worthy set. Because he memorized hundreds of words written by a British author twenty years ago and brought them alive.

I weep for these young performers the same way I wept at my son’s track meets. I want them to linger in the innocence of childhood a bit more but they’re all so competitive and striving to do so much. To grow up quicker, to act like adults, to take on more responsibility.

Yesterday my son had a monologue reading in that same black box theatre, only this time he did the Matt Damon “Why Wouldn’t I work for the NSA” monologue from Good Will Hunting

Once again, as soon as he took his seat on stage, my heart began beating off kilter and my breath was erratic. He seemed confident and not nervous at all, but I didn’t exhale once during his three-minute speech. I knew the lines by heart and awaited each word as he uttered it, praying to the acting gods that he wouldn’t screw up, and if he did, that he’d recover flawlessly, like a professional and not get flustered.

He killed it! (I’m not biased.)

I’ve filed away his first clipping, the one which mentions “the choreography in {my son’s} scenes was excellent, and the combination of his forwardness and the girl’s vulnerability resonated effectively.”

I texted the review to my son, who hadn’t seen it.

“Any criticism?” he asked.

“None!” I said. “Of course not!”

One thought on ““Stage Mother” Club

  1. I can’t wait for every single show from now on and I will never miss one!!! Maybe his dramatic parents gave him a little incentive? Now you guys can live vicariously through him!

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