I am in front of 100 people, dressed as a woman, dancing in heels and lip-synching the song “Shake Your Groove Thing.” This is not a dream. This is really happening again and again. How did I get here?
Before I answer, please accept my apology, this is my second “music-centric” post on Life + Style (you can check out the appropriately titled “Music Lessons” here). Here’s the thing, I essentially have two full-time jobs right now: REALTOR® and performer.
How is it that I am now pretty good at dancing in high heels? My son, Julian, is somewhat to blame. After seeing a production at the BLUEBARN Theatre earlier this year, Jules (a mighty fine budding performer) told me he wanted to audition for any children’s role they may have coming up. I knew that this season’s closer, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical, had a young boy’s role. So, we put the audition date on the calendar.
For the past two years, I have been honored to sit on the BLUEBARN Theatre’s Board of Directors. This theatre company is an Omaha treasure. Since 1989, the BLUEBARN has been producing riveting, thought-provoking performances.
As much as I like being a board member, I have yearned to get on that stage as well. The vast majority of the BLUEBARN’s productions are plays and the quality of the performances are top notch. Most often, I leave the BLUEBARN in awe of the talent. I am not a “trained” actor by any means, so I figured the only way I would ever be in a BLUEBARN show would be if it were a musical.
I decided I might as well audition, along with my son, for Priscilla. Truth be told, I didn’t know much about the musical. I had only recently watched the movie, which came out in 1994. I questioned how a movie about two drag queens and a transgender woman traveling to Australia’s Outback could be made into a musical. Now I know. And let me tell you, it is brilliant… but not easy!
I was cast as Tick/Mitzi, a gay drag queen who is estranged from his son. Julian was cast as my son (a role he is splitting with his friend Eliot Gray). What I’ve discovered, with the help of our expert director Susan Clement-Toberer, is that this role (in fact, the entire show) has incredible depth, nuance, humor, sadness and love. In other words, this is not just an excuse to play dress-up and sing disco songs.
The most satisfying aspect of this journey has been the intense camaraderie amongst all of the cast and crew. I am truly amazed by people’s willingness to give of their time and put forth such effort. The fact that all of us continue to show up physically and emotionally is something special. We do it for each other, for the art, and for ourselves.
I must give a shout out to the unsung heroes – our crew. Technically, Priscilla is a massive, complicated undertaking. The musicians in the band, the lighting crew, the sound crew are all instrumental in making the show happen. Personally, I have 13 costume changes, the majority of which need to be done in about 30 seconds or less! Needless to say my “changers” Bradley and Kim have gotten to know me exceedingly well.
We do it for each other, for the art, and for ourselves.
As I write this, we are halfway through the run. Of the 12 shows remaining, only six nights still have tickets available. Each and every show has been sold out. Should you have interest, I encourage you to buy your tickets sooner rather than later!
This is only the second season in the BLUEBARN’s new space, located at 10th and Pacific. If you have yet to step into this state-of-the-art facility, don’t delay! The theatre has helped to pave the way and ignite interest in the area. It is truly exciting to see Omaha’s South 10th and 13th Street corridors develop and grow.
Have an all-time favorite BLUEBARN production? Let me know in the comments below! Hope to see you there soon!