From Pirate Ships to Ocean Liners

Written by: Sarah Verespej (2017)

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Photo Credit by George Katsekes

As soon as Peter Pan and the Girl Who Grew Up came to a close on May 1st this spring, and with the thought of not being in a show until September, I made the decision to find a way to remain involved with theatre over the summer. After doing a little research and dusting off my tap shoes, I got in the car and drove to my first non-Homestead audition. I still remember that evening in Elm Grove quite clearly; standing alone onstage staring into a spotlight that, thankfully, blinded my eyes from the 30 unfamiliar faces expectantly staring at me. The accompanist plunked out the first 4 intro chords of “Much More” from The Fantasticks, I inhaled deeply, and began to sing. I can’t remember the last time I was so nervous but also extremely comfortable at the same time. That’s the thing about auditions, it was scary because I knew it would determine how the next few months of my life would go, but when you love performing the way I do, the anxiety melts away the second you open your mouth. A couple days later I received a phone call offering me the role of “Virtue,” one of Reno’s promiscuous dancers that travels alongside her on the S.S. American; and with that my voyage at Sunset Playhouse set sail.

Shortly after the directors and choreographer set the cast of Anything Goes, we all gathered for our first read-through together on a stormy Monday night in May. As I looked up and down the long table of cast members, I didn’t recognize a single face, and immediately a nervous pit formed in my stomach. Shyness began to take over me as I asked myself  “What on earth have I gotten myself into? None of these people know who I am!” But that’s when I realized, that that was just it: none of these people know who I am. This show was a fresh start, a clean slate with a drama-free cast, and with that the timidness melted away and pure excitement took over me. Following that first table read, came the nightly 3-5 hours of learning song lyrics and harmonies, entrances and exits, tap numbers and dance formations. Of course every night I came home absolutely exhausted, but the accomplishment and happiness I found in those rehearsals, was always worth the tiring evenings in Elm Grove. As our cast and crew entered tech week, the show was really starting to come together, and so were a lot of amazing friendships. By the time we opened the show a couple weeks ago, everyone in the cast had really bonded and became incredibly close, and for that I am so thankful. Almost every single night for the 4 weeks run of the production I get to do something that I love with people that I love – experiences like this are hard to find but I know I will remember it forever.

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Cast of “Anything Goes” Photo Credit: George Katsekes

As an actor I think it’s really important to learn from a variety of people because everyone has a different approach and way of doing things, and if you can adjust easily now, you’ll be able to do so in the future as well.

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photo credit: George Katsekes
But not only have I been having fun performing, I’ve also learned a lot about auditioning, stage production, and performing. Of course working with Figg is always a blast, but rehearsing and performing a show under different directors has made me more flexible and become comfortable with various teaching styles. As an actor I think it’s really important to learn from a variety of people because everyone has a different approach and way of doing things, and if you can adjust easily now, you’ll be able to do so in the future as well. I especially enjoyed recalling my tap training from when I took dance for 10 years. It felt great to get back on my feet, and also recognize the different styles of dance that various musicals may require. On the other hand, not only did I learn about the technicalities of a production, but I also relearned a lot about friendship and finding the right people to be around. The main thing I realized is something that everyone always says, but I had forgotten about until this summer: be yourself. Being around a new group of people gave me a fresh start to just be who I am. By doing so I now I have really close relationships with almost every single person in the cast, and I’m so thankful for that. Surrounding yourself with people that love you for exactly who you are is extremely important and I had forgotten that for a little bit before I began Anything Goes.

Taking risks can be frightening, but I’m grateful for the people that encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new.

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Photo Credit by George Katsekes

Overall, being a part of Sunset Playhouse’s Anything Goes cast has made a very positive impact on my rehearsal technique, performance level, and most importantly my heart. Taking risks can be frightening, but I’m grateful for the people that encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. I couldn’t think of a better way to continue feeding my passion for theatre over the summer than being a part of this production. And now, having accumulated the knowledge that I have from Sunset, I’m even more excited to take on my final three shows during my senior year at Homestead. My plan is to bring in fresh insight on theatre and acceptance to the wonderful drama club there, and of course audition for more shows at Sunset if my schedule allows. It’s truly been an amazing ride with amazing people, but now it’s time for an amazing final weekend of performances. Don’t miss it!

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