The Beauty of Embracing the Beast That is Musical Theatre

My spirit was gently prodded by a magical wand when I watched Everett perform on the stage for Theatre Ancaster's Junior Broadway production of Newsies Jr in January of 2023. Both Danika and Everett had already been a part of the company's youth programs, but this was a large-scale musical on a big stage with professional-level production value. I have beamed with pride over both my kids' hard work and commitment to the arts and after the pandemic forced isolation, I recognized how valuable it was for their self-esteem, confidence, and mental health.

It also whisked me away to my much younger years when I was enrolled in a drama class where the kids with the guidance of our leader, Larry Brown (a wonderful and creative man who I'd love to know what he did next), would create a play that we would then perform for an audience at the end of the session. I continued acting into high school where I was part of a few productions, but it was always plays. I never thought anyone except the shower nozzle would ever want to hear my attempt at singing. 

A desire for the stage had been stirred inside me again when I watched Everett excel and embrace a love for performing. There were also those notorious dark negative voices that mocked my aging brain's ability to recall lines and the reality that the last time I did anything on a stage was a one-off play in University. Plus, when those voices really get some momentum they chuck in a few jabs that I'm probably just not that good at acting and oh yeah, my writing stinks too. 

Writing doesn't have anything to do with acting, but those voices try to nail as many insecurities as possible. Jerks.

Any reader who suffered through my output in 2023 knows it wasn't an award-winning year instead I was being gobbled up by negativity and energy-draining sadness as I clawed desperately to resuscitate my writing career. It also meant that my awards for being a husband and father weren't coming in the mail either, and I needed to find a way to reconnect with my family.

This was part of the reason I jumped at the audition for Brant Theatre Workshop's production of The Misadventures of Pinocchio where Everett and I landed supporting roles. It was not huge parts, but a nice way to ease me back into that world since there weren't too many lines to memorize but enough to sink me into the characters and try out a few roles. Unfortunately, the fates of theatres crashed down upon us and the planned six shows ended up being one and a half. I am still very grateful for the experience.

It left me craving more. But what I was imagining was another play, but then Playful Fox Productions scurried into my life.

The production company had a variety of shows that I could audition for, but the real objective was to share that stage with Everett. The only productions with kid's parts happened to be musicals. You know, the shows where one is expected to sing and dance along with acting. Outside of a few elementary school concerts where I was able to hide amongst a crowd, I had never sung in front of anyone and was deep in the belief the world was better without me attempting. I was already stepping out of my comfort zone by memorizing and presenting a monologue but now it would be a giant leap where I had to had to perform a song to demonstrate my range. I doubted they wanted to be anywhere near my range when I tried to belt out a tune.

Not only was my singing good enough that they didn't immediately kick me out the door, but I got the pleasant surprise of landing a few roles in upcoming musicals and the best surprise was Emily and Danika joined to make it an entire family affair. Danika also was drawn to the stage but as a spur-of-the-moment decision, Emily graced them with her angelic voice to land a part.

In yet another wondrous surprise, we found out that on top of the musicals we auditioned for, we were given roles in the upcoming Beauty & Beast. Everett landed Chip, while the rest of us got to have significant ensemble roles. The coolest part was part of our run was going to be at the historic Brantford Sanderson Centre. It was living a dream that I had ignored for decades.

It was stressful devoting several hours a week to a musical while trying to ignore the voice of diminishing self-worth barking that I was destined to make a fool of myself. It was a big commitment while frantically trying to grasp secure client work and trying to manage my shaky mental health to be a strong, devoted, and loving husband and father. But joining the adventure of musical theatre was one of the best decisions I've made in a very, very, very long time. 

I have always loved the arts and creativity. Performing has brought me much joy throughout my life. I mentioned my experience in plays as a kid and teenager, but as an adult, I showcased my dramatic chops by performing at campfires in front of many kids while I worked at Medeba. When my kids were younger, delving into the world of imagination was a daily ritual, and sometimes there was an audience of friends or parents. I have been podcasting for over a decade, which is also a form of performing. I'd largely decided that writing and podcasting would be my main form of creation with maybe some videos thrown in. It didn't take long while rehearsing for Beauty & the Beast that this nourished my soul and lifted my spirits beyond the dark clouds. Then, being on the stage at the Sanderson Centre and the Little Guelph Theatre ignited a love for acting and entertaining that I'd been denying for too long.

It was great finding a group that shared my love of arts. 2023 was a year when I retreated to my emotional cave and barely ventured out into the sunlight. It was invigorating to feel that ray of joy as I shared a love for performing and creativity with others. There is something magical connecting with creative people who are uniting through the goal of putting on a show destined to spread joy and entertainment to others. This was confirmed when I saw so many little princesses in the audience jumping up and down being transported to a magical world provided by our show on the stage. 

The true magic was sharing this experience with my family. It was amazing seeing Everett and Danika shine on the stage. I loved witnessing Emily showcase her gifts but also witness her embrace performing as much as the rest of the family. This was a gift that was huge for bonding our family and strengthening our love for each other.

It also turned out to be a massive rocketship-level boost to my self-confidence. After the shows, friends and family remarked how I belonged up there and joy seemed to resonate from my soul (okay, maybe I add some poetic touch to their exact words, but the message remains the same). My Mom mentioned that she and Dad enrolled me in drama as a kid because I showed a love and passion for it. She was so proud to see me return and it was clear to her that I was meant for the stage. The biggest moment was when Emily let me know she was proud of me and believed this was something I'd continue to shine if I pursued it

I will continue. Along with my talented family, we are set to perform again for Playful Fox with their production of Anastasia. We are determined for this to just be the start of our musical and theatrical journey. To the point that not only are we looking at getting some lessons to improve our kids' skills, but I also want to go down that path so that one day I can dare to do a solo in front of a packed house. For now, the biggest treasure has just been sharing it all with my family and making some new friends too.

It is a little disappointing I took so long to write about this experience. As I continue to devote my time to building this site, the plan is to share more about our adventures in theatre, and hopefully inspire others to push themselves and try something new and exciting.

What is something that scares you but you'd also love to try?