One of the earliest musical memories I have is of watching the old Annie movie adaptation of the musical during my childhood. My sister absolutely loved it and would watch it over and over and over again, so much so that this movie, which is ultimately a new take on the Robin from Batman story (right?) was my absolutely least favorite thing that ever existed on this planet.
I hated it.
Like the ‘Let it Go’s and ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’s of today, those dang songs from that movie would just not leave my head and I honestly should have probably sworn off musical theatre at the age of 10.
But then I found acting, and I found that I enjoyed it, regardless of whether I was any good at it. It became such a huge part of what I wanted to be that I absolutely couldn’t turn down any opportunity to get on the stage.
And then my high school decided they were going to put on a production of Annie.
I was heartbroken. I loved being in the shows at my school. Even if I never got much more than a few lines of dialogue on stage, I absolutely adored being up there. And I decided immediately that I was going to have to avoid the show entirely because of my young years of being blasted with the music from that movie.
I don’t remember how exactly it happened, but I ultimately ended up auditioning for the show and got the role of Rooster Hannigan, played in the original movie by Tim Curry, who is basically a little bit part villain who really just helps the main villain, Ms. Hannigan, get her revenge on the little orphan girl. This character comes complete with his own musical number and floozy and, well, it was in this very moment that I would realize exactly my favorite type of role on stage.
A small-ish non-extra role which gets to come in, generally during the second act, make a big splash, and then goes and hides backstage until curtain call. This is my place, folks. And I’ve been lucky enough to get this role in a number of shows since this original finding of my favorite position in the theatre roster.
I’ve gotten to play leads before, and I’ve found they’re just not my thing, but the splashy minimal stage-time character, that’s my guy. The Wandering Oakens or the Brunos, they are the guys I feel like I’m born to play. The ones where I can get off stage fast enough before anyone realizes that my acting is, well, meh.
Now, what’s the point here?
Well, just that I’m excited that the sun is supposed to come out today, and that put that darned song from Annie in my head, and I figured I’d go with it. Because although I definitely liked performing before I took my turn as Rooster Hannigan, it wasn’t until that point when I realized where I actually fit on stage.
And that, to be completely honest with you, is what brought me to being a writer, because it wasn’t until then that I realized I probably wasn’t suited for the stage nearly as much as I wanted to be, but I still wanted that benefit of being able to create characters like you get to in theatre. This is why I liked those bit-parts so much. I got to create this bigger than life character, breathe all the scenery-eating life into it, and then move on to the next thing. Which is, honestly, not that much different than being a writer, except I get to create ALL the characters. And that, my friends, is an awful lot of fun.
So, in a way, I almost missed out on becoming the person I am today simply because my sister loved a movie too much which is based on a theatrical production that would become my second-favorite show I’ve ever performed in. Which means, I should probably stop telling my kids to turn off the Bruno. Maybe Encanto will lead to my next big life-altering moment…