In first grade, I decided exactly what I was destined to be: the President of the United States. Being the list-maker that I am, I had all of the major steps planned by fourth grade. #1. Attend a prestigious college. #2. Become diplomat. #3. Become Secretary of State. #4. Run for President. #5 Win. My childhood idol was Condoleeza Rice. Rice speaks Russian; I decided to learn Mandarin Chinese. Rice is a concert pianist; I decided to sing.
I realized through voice lessons how intensely I relish in music, how incredible I feel when contributing to a song through my voice. I felt such honor when allowing my voice to duet with a piano, or with an acoustic guitar. Singing proved simply infatuating, it set every fragment of me free…my voice, my brain, my body. Nothing could replace the planting of my feet to the ground, standing tall, and releasing music to the sky, a sound uniquely mine.
I discovered the gift a true passion can give: timelessness. I auditioned for a show, and received the honor of singing the classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The director proved tough, and I occasionally got yelled at…but strangely, I liked it. I studied my character, and began to understand how she needed and deserved to be played. I was not going to let her down. Again, the timelessness occurred: rehearsal would fly by, and performances were over before I felt they had even begun. Regardless, my dreams of becoming the President did not waver. I had an agenda. Singing was to be my hobby, not my career.
It’s odd how three short hours changed the path of my life. I saw Wicked. Wicked is the Harry Potter of musicals, a piece almost everybody loves, even if not an avid reader or musical enthusiast. Wicked of course, became quite popular, with 90% of my pre-teen friends knowing every lyric to the famous “Defying Gravity” and “Popular”. I loved the music, the lines, the characters, but it was one element that essentially changed my life. Stephanie J. Block. Suspended grandly in the air, I did not see Elphaba. I saw a stunning woman painted green, engrossed in her passion…experiencing absolute timelessness. This actress was free, she was lost, she was feeling what I found myself feeling when I sing. I couldn’t peel my eyes away. I saw her and knew that is what I wanted. More importantly, I knew that is what I needed. I couldn’t be fulfilled without it. I needed to sing with every fiber of my being. I longed to have Stephanie’s skill, with Kristin Chenoweth’s proud soprano ring. I yearned for technique, for perfection.
That night, I had an epiphany. Theatre is marketing, allowing people to believe what you want them to, communication, and acting. Exactly the principles that embody politics! But with theatre I could sing every day. I revised my list a little bit. Perhaps I could follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps, instead? Theatre first, then politics.
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