Monday, June 6, 2011

Vicarious Encouragement

As many of you know, Blake is very involved in a local youth theatre. It is the one activity that he has actually shown interest in. Well, I take that back. He showed some interest in swimming, but he never put forth the effort needed to go anywhere with it. In his whole ten years, Blake has never shown much passion, or drive, or competitiveness. "Lack of effort". That is what I see on some of his assignments. It is what I see in his writing. It is what I have even seen in a couple of performances. The characteristic of "competitiveness" is not one I necessarily want to foster in my children. What I want to foster is passion, drive, excellence. I want them to be the best them they can be. In theatre, this does mean a certain amount of competitiveness since you are, in fact, competing for roles. However, in an audition, you need passion, excellence, and to be the best you can be. Blake learned this during the audition process for Seussical.

Blake has done 4 shows. His first two were "no-cut" shows, meaning you show up, sing, and you get in. This is perfect for a child starting theatre. It is a no-stress process, and they get the experience of being in a show and on the stage. Blake still managed to choke during his audition for "Best Christmas Pageant Ever". The director, thankfully, convinced Blake it was his birthday. Blake sang a weak rendition of "Happy Birthday". Thank goodness for the no-cut thing. He made it in. Because rehearsals and shows are a LOT of work, not to mention a huge time commitment, we decided to take a break. The next show he auditioned for was "Seussical". This would be his first "real" audition. Big cuts would be made in this show. Now might be a good time to mention that it take a LOT of encouragement from his mother (me) to get him to work on an audition piece. Constant reminding to pick a song, and then constant reminding to practice chosen song, and then constant encouragement to sing said song in front of other people. It is at this point I sometimes wonder if he really wants to do this at all, or if it is me that wants him to do this. Shouldn't he want to choose a song? Shouldn't he want to practice? Why am I the one forcing him to do this? Is it because musical theatre was an unachieved dream of mine (with the exception of an ensemble role in My Fair Lady)? Is it because I love musical theatre so much? Or does he really want this? Time and time again, I come to the conclusion that he really wants this. He has fun, he makes friends, and he likes being on stage. Right now though, I am his drive, his ambition, and his competitive spirit. Because right now, he has none. Life has been way too easy for this kid.

So back to Seussical auditions. I believe he finally chose the song "Only the Good Die Young". The directors must have liked him because he was called back. Even better, he was called back for an actual part. The all important role of young JoJo. The Who who saves Whoville. We practiced singing "It's Possible". He got pretty darn good at it. At callbacks, he sang the song beautifully. Not loud, but on key. If they were going for a young, small child for JoJo, he was a shoe-in. Enter Conner. Conner is amazing. He is thirteen, but he was able to sing in the higher key of JoJo. And he sings loud. And he is really good at that acting stuff too. If they are going for an older but much talented JoJo, Conner was THE shoe-in. Of course, Conner got the part. Blake was crushed. Remember, Blake didn't even know he wanted this part until he was called back for it. Nonetheless, he was devastated he didn't get the part of JoJo. So much so, he couldn't even see how lucky he was to be one of the 35 kids to make it into the show (70 auditioned). Can I tell you how glad I am Blake didn't get the part? It might sound odd, but it is exactly what he needed. By not getting the part he didn't know he wanted, he got a taste. A taste of passion, a taste of drive, a taste of wanting more. He decided then that he was going to try harder, learn the parts, and get the bigger roles he finally decided he wanted. Well, he may have decided this, but when the next audition came, I was still after him about his song. He still needed gentle (and not so gentle) reminders to focus. Once again I had to wonder, does he want this? Or do I want this?

I knew he needed more than I could give him if he wanted the "big parts". One of the mom's told me her kids took voice lesson's from Kenny's daughter. Perfect. Blake loves Kenny's daughter. What's more, she is an amazing actress and vocalist. What's even more, the price was something I could afford. Done and done. Now she could get after him about his audition piece for Cats. I then learned Spotlight offered a dance class once a week. Well, his dance skills could definitely use some help. There were openings, and I needed Blake to decide. I bugged him for a few days about this, until he finally said, "Mom, do you want me to take this dance class?" Crap. Was it me? Finally HE decided he wanted the dance class. With a lot, I mean a lot, of encouragement, he finally went. It was the aforementioned Conner that got him out of the car. Blake also loves Conner, even though he stole his "part".

Here is what I have learned from all of this. Lazy ten-year-old boys need a lot of help and encouragement from mom if they want to succeed at anything, especially musical theatre. I see his face light up on stage. I hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about auditioning for next season. I wipe his tears when a show is over. I am not a pushy stage mom; I don't force him to do anything he doesn't want to. My role as his mother is to give him the extra nudge he needs to do the audition, sing the song, or go to dance class. It doesn't hurt that I am getting enjoyment out of this, too. As long as we both know that is not why he is doing this. He does this because he loves this. Just watch him on stage. It's really amazing, and he gets better every time.

1 comment:

  1. I may not be his mom but I'm one proud aunt! I've been to every show and tear up every time. I'm so happy Blake has found something he is passionate about! I can not wait for the next show and see how much he has blossomed. I love you blakey.