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Tales from the Motherhood: Stepping outside the box to try a new role

Published: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 5:14 p.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

Hanging out with adolescents can be so disconcerting. They seem to notice every little step we parents take outside of our parent “box.”

“Did you get your science homework done?” I asked Holly, Wednesday afternoon.

“Yep,” she replied.

“Cool Beans,” I said.

“I’ve never heard you say that before!” she said.

She cracks me up. Yes, there I go again, tiptoeing outside the box.

Last Saturday, when I auditioned for Playhouse 38’s (Geneva Park District) production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” it happened again.

I’ve been quietly flirting with the idea of auditioning for live theater since high school, when I was cast in the lead role of Nanette in the musical “No, No, Nanette.” I had to turn it down due to a sports conflict, but when I saw the open call for auditions for the park district’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a show I already know and adore, I figured it would be just the thing to finally get me to dip my big toe back in to theater.

I figured that perhaps I could play a small part. You know, that of Mary’s mom or maybe even Mrs. Bailey, particularly since it would just be a radio show – or so I thought.

For a happy moment I imagined pajamas and no makeup, just a mic. Perfect! Right up my alley, I decided, so I impulsively picked up the phone and made an appointment for my audition. And then I took a second look at the notice and read something about “five actors performing the voices of dozens of characters.” Huh.

When I Googled the script and realized that this “radio show” would actually be performed on stage in front of a live audience in an actual theater – and calls for a few women to cover several roles, including the lead female parts of young Mary and the vampy Violet, I laughed out loud.

Been a while since I was a 20-something after all. Oops! I considered canceling. I even called the park district office to make sure it was OK that I audition even though I’m not a Geneva resident, half-hoping they’d say it wasn’t. It was.

When Holly and I watched a trailer of another theater’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” on YouTube, and she expressed horror at the prospect that I might have to play the sexy Violet, or, worse, even have to kiss George Bailey – furthering the notion that we moms should just stay in character – I wasn’t sure she was wrong.

Whatever.

I colored my hair. I got dressed. I found the theater. The “what the heck am I doing?” thought sprinted back and forth through my addled brain as I parked my car, dodged raindrops and opened the door.

What fun it was for me to discover, however, that everyone else auditioning around the time I did (but for one young lady, and a very young man perched mighty uncomfortably on a chair), was also a middle-aged woman. Ha! I could just imagine similar conversations taking place with their own kids – or in their own heads – but there we were, nonetheless. Go us!

I’m not sure how many auditioned altogether, but I understand that the “competition was stiff” for the three spots available for women. I didn’t get one but was really glad I went. I learned a lot just from listening to the others read and was really impressed with some of the hopefuls. It’ll be fun to see the show, slated to be performed the third and fourth weekends in December.

I completely understand why my kids might prefer to see me merely as their marvelous chauffeur, since I do my writing and counsel my clients during their school hours.

Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing for them to see me stepping outside the box. Maybe they learned that trying something new – and even mildly terrifying, can, at the very least, be a fun way to spend an afternoon, if not be a bold step in a wonderful new direction. I know I did.

Besides, I have very real intentions to go hang-gliding someday. Auditioning for a play isn’t such a huge leap, right? I may just have to try it again.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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