Busting my stage cherry – 4/16/2007

So the title is graphic and a little naughty, big deal.

This is the story of my first time on stage in front of about 300 people.

When the concept of working at Club Med was first explained to me, I thought it to be interesting and fun, if not a little odd. I mean really, who pays you to do what you enjoy doing, learn to do new stuff, show off your new stuff on stage and to talk to random strangers who end up being your friend 6 days later? Well, Club Med does basically, or that was my understanding of it.

I like to dance. Mind you, I am a terrible dancer. An embarassment to anyone with rhythm actually. I can headbang with the best of them, although I’m getting off track. I have a tendency to be very active behind the bar (I think I left out the fact that I was a bartender), and therefore, I tend to be remembered if not noticed. Our choreographer, who came in for coffee every morning, was dying to get me in a show.

The problem was scheduling. You see, as a bartender, I was working during many of the rehearsal times and no rehearsal equals no show. Fortunately, in my first season working at CM, my co-workers in the bar really enjoyed drinking more than I did and were not the least bit interested in getting up early. Me, on the other hand, I would prefer to be up early and get my work done so that I can relax in the evenings. In the end, my boss gave in and let me take over all of the morning shifts so that I would have evenings free for rehearsals and shows.

These are not Broadway productions people. These were a bunch of folks whose talents lie elsewhere that were coerced into a show. A lot of rehearsals consisted of more yelling than dancing. I was behind in the learning curve since most people had already been doing rehearsals for a while before I got there, but I do learn quickly.

Here’s the thing about CM: if you’re asked to do something and you say yes, you’d better be ready to do it in a very short amount of time. I’m pretty sure I had about one week of practice before the choreographer decided that I was ready for the stage. How excited was I?!?! I told my co-workers and my boss about my pending big debut and all was happy across the land.

As the big night approached, I had no worries. How difficult could this be? That was not the correct attitude. I headed backstage before showtime and found my newly named cubby. It had my three costumes and my shoes. Whee!!! I made sure of the order of the show and pulled out my first costume and that’s when it struck.

Stage fright.

Possibly the worst case ever known to man. Okay, probably not, but my God, I couldn’t even get my shoes on. Mimi, who had the cubby next to mine, noticed that I was a bit on the nervous side.

“Sunshine, how are you doing?”

“Well, I have all my costumes, I think I remember the steps.”

“That’s good. Oh wait, you have that on backwards.”

“Ugh! This is terrible. I’m shaking like a leaf!”

“Oh, yes, this is your first show, right?”

“Sure is. I hope I don’t screw up.”

“Look, have you had a drink?”

Seriously, she asked me if I was drinking. I will not stand on a soap box and say I didn’t consider it, but I decided against it being the noob.

“Um, no.”

“Well, girl, go get one! Geez, you work in the bar, you drink for free, and you’re not having anything? Go get yourself a drink, and bring me one too.”

I’m pretty sure that I looked at her as if she had 3 heads before she told me to get a move on. There was a corridor that connected backstage with the back area of the bar and I made good use of it. I went back, got us drinks, had a shot of Jaegermeister for good luck and then headed backstage again where Mimi and I toasted my first show.

Did you know that alcohol kills butterflies? No scientific study needed. Proof positive. I went out on stage and busted a choreographed move. Not only in the first number where you couldn’t see any of our faces anyways, but in the second number and in the finale where I was in the front row!

As we changed back into our regular clothes after the show, I received congratulatory praises on my first performance. Even my boss pulled me to the side and said that I was right to fight for what I wanted to do. It was a great experience that lead to soooo many more nights on stage. After a couple years of performing, people started asking me if I’d had any experience on stage before because it always looked like I was having so much fun up there. A few people suggested that I should try a career in stage. HA! I laugh at them. I’m smiling and laughing because a)we do talk to each other up there even though you can’t hear it in the audience and b) give me a shot of Jaeger and I’ll smile at anything.

I’ve retired my stage shoes, they’ve been collecting dust for about 3 years now. That doesn’t mean I don’t get the urge to dance every now and again because I do. I just have to suppress these desires and be the mom/girlfriend/admin/web designer/soon-to-be business owner that we all know and love.

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