My folks helped found the community theater in my home town. They recently had their 20th anniversary, and are finally running in the black. They rarely do shows that don't sell out almost every night anymore. The place has become an institution in my home town.
And I grew up there.
I can still remember going to see the first show we were involved with. Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. From that point on, I was enraptured with live theater. From that point on, I had my hands in EVERYWHERE. I built sets, I sold tickets, I cleaned bathrooms... At 11, I crewed my first show. Lights. I was an extra set of hands, really. I would sleep in the spotlight loft until they needed me, then come down and help turn dimmers on and off since the masters on the Monolith (the first light board) didn't work. I stage managed my first show at thirteen. My sister and I were called upon whenever a director was short handed for stuff. We were called upon when upset parents pulled their kids out of shows half way through the run because they 'weren't supposed to stay with the non-custodial parent that long.'
I grew up around people older than I was. I grew up around creative people. I grew up somewhere where I was treated as an equal, despite the fact that I was just a 'kid'.
That's where the bug I had was nurtured, really. I can still remember where I caught it though. My first performance ever. At three years old, I sang You are my sunshine on stage at Foster's Clam Bake in Wells Beach, Maine. I can remember that. I can see the microphone in front of me. Someone was holding me up. I can still see the smiling faces looking back at me, and feel the applause when I was done. This was the spark. Riverfront was the fuel to feed it and make it grow.
At the end of my sophomore year in highschool, I auditioned for Starship, the show choir at my school. Yeah, I went to Enterprise Highschool, and the show choir was named Enterprise Starship. This was no normal show choir though. They only did top 40 songs... no show tunes. :)
So I auditioned. I wasn't part of the music program, no one knew who I was. When the list came out for who would be part of the group for the next year, I was number thirteen on the mens list.
They took the top twelve guys.
Yeah, fuck a duck.
Half way through the school year, I was called into Mr. Ashton's office. He was the director of the group. He came from a school in Vegas, so the show stuff was his thing. He was way cool.
Apparently enough guys had been forced to drop out of the group because of academic reasons, that they were now short handed. He wanted to know if I'd like to come in at the semester break.
Within two days, I'd arranged to drop all my honors classes so that I'd have 7th period free for Starship, and 5th period free for Choir. You had to be in Choir to be in Starship.
All of my honors professors were NOT happy with my decision, but for some reason I had to do what I had to do.
For my senior year, I was number three on the list.
The last performance of my senior year was video taped, and it got the group invited to France to represent California in the French Bi-centennial celebration. We were that good.
Day late, dollar short... at least at first.