The show before the encore
The first year Luke and I were married, he surprised me with tickets to The Nutcracker, which up until that point in my life I had never seen. We had dinner in downtown Boston beforehand at a restaurant right across the street from the theater where several of the little girls performing in the show dined before scurrying off to make their call time. We dressed up, and people pulled up to the front in fancy cars. The Boston Ballet was stunning, and I was enchanted by the whole thing from start to finish.
I love live theater in general, too, and always have. It’s some crazy magic, a whole room of people going along with a made up story and put on characters. And as Noah has gotten older, I have shared some of that with him, but though he’s interested in a good show just fine, I can tell it doesn’t quite affect him in the starry-eyed, oh-the-possibilities way that it did me from the first second a curtain was raised in front of my lit up face.
But then came Rosie.
Even as a baby, I could tell something clicked with her when it came to music and performance, and so in my head I started plotting our first outing to the theah-tah. What better first foray, thought I, than The Nutcracker? Little girls like her, pointy-toed dancers, a Snow Queen … I lay in wait of the day when her age would allow for sitting through at least the first act of a show. (I was keeping it real.) Four seemed like the year, but I waited too late to get the tickets, and by the time I looked into it, they were too expensive, even for a magical first memory with my girl. Four was not to be the year.
Then in early October this year I received a flier in the mail with a coupon code for the show and I took it as a clear sign: THIS WAS HAPPENING. Five was it, I was on the ball, and we were gonna DEW THIS.
And then literally the very next day I got an email from Rosie’s teacher: Hey Parents! Field trip! Pre-K takes on THE NUTCRACKER!
I admit, I was crestfallen. I had already imagined her face when we walked into The Fox for the first time. She would gasp at the twinkling stars on the ceiling, and I would pull her into my lap when the lady with the big updo sat in the seat in front of her. I felt like something was being stolen from me (yes, STOLEN because if you haven’t gathered yet from this post, I enjoy plying audiences with some DRAMZ from time to time) and I wanted it back, dammit!
So I decided to beat that meddlesome Pre-K bunch to the punch and bought two tickets for opening night.
Sure, I paid good money to take her to the same thing she was going to see for only $10 the very next week, and shelled out extra for parking because it was raining and I didn’t want to walk too far with the tiny umbrella I managed to find at the very last minute in the piles of coats on our front porch before we left, and got peanut butter in my purse from the sandwich I wolfed down in the car on the way there, and almost missed the beginning because she had to use the bathroom even though we had been sitting in our seats for half an hour and I’d asked her five times if she had to go, and sat behind the loudest row in the entire theater including two girls who turned around and looked at us every two minutes, and sent an entire cup of Coke cascading down two rows of seats in the opening strains of Act 1 … BUT.
Her eyes didn’t leave the stage hardly at all for 2+ hours. She asked me approximately 3,425 questions, and wanted to know how and why EVERYTHING was happening. She asked me if she could stand up and dance. She climbed up into her seat during the scene where Clara grabbed a sword and attacked the giant rats, with a look on her face that said HELLZ YEAH, CLARA! She leaned over during the second act when the arab dancers did their bit, saying, “I love this careful music.” She wanted to know how the dancers stayed on their toes that long, and watched with her feet pointed straight out in front of her. She was concerned when the music was dramatic, and gasped when the stage was filled with snow. In short, she reacted just as I always knew she would.
Then again, she also curved her head toward mine at one point, never taking her gaze from the action, and said in her best stage whisper, “Mama, did you know that we are matter? Everything around us is matter. Except for blankets, they’re soft.”
So anyway, buying those tickets was 110% worth it.