Monday, May 11, 2009

In Philly, Boston, or Baltimo'

When we moved to Utah at the start of my 9th grade year, it didn't take long for me to make some new friends, especially Cinderella, who got me involved the local youth theatre, and my Not-My-Boyfriend. The two of them were involved in the Science Demo Team - 8 groups of 4 or 5 9th graders who demonstrated basic scientific principles to children in local elementary schools. In fact, they were the in the same group, the light group, and I found myself going to many of their practices and even helping out most of the time. Eventually, they realized that my help was invaluable and they convinced the sponsoring science teachers that they needed another person on their team and, because I had been to so many practices, that it should be me.

Now, this was quite an upset. The Science Demo Team was an exclusive group that you applied to be a part of as an 8th grader. You had to demonstrate both good grades in science, but in all subjects, and maintain those grades throughout the school year. There were always more applicants than spots and it was an honor to be chosen to wear one of the tie-dyed lab coats. Consequently, there was already a list of alternates that had been chosen long before I came along, and when the first alternate got wind of my appointment ahead of him, he was not pleased. Fortunately, another spot opened up on the team and he was able to join in the fun too.

The Science Demo Team toured the local elementary schools at least once or twice a month and even got to perform at UVSC. It was great fun! It was even on one of these trips that I got the high school nickname that still follows me around - Bubbles. We had a blast talking about the principles of light (and watching the other groups' experiments). And, of course, I did not mind being around my best friend and my Not My Boyfriend so much. I loved it.

My senior year, I was in the musical theatre class. One of our projects involved putting together a version of Horton Hatches an Egg (this was pre-Seussical) and, after performing in our own school's little theater, taking it to various area elementary schools. I didn't have a particularly large part, but I did get to help choreograph it, and it was a fun show regardless.

During my senior year at BYU, I had the privilege of being on the BYU Young Company, which has two "branches". One performs a classic play, the other a contemporary. I was part of the contemporary show, and our play that year was Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. I played Grammy mouse and a little mouse named Becky (I got to pick my own name, and liked that one, for whatever reason). After a two-week run in the BYU Nelke Theater, we took our show on the road, two shows day, every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the semester at, you guessed it, local elementary schools. I have fond memories of waking up entirely too early and spending hours in the big BYU van, studying in between scenes, and performing a show we could eventually perform in our sleep.

It was sometime during this run that I realized I had been a part of a touring show during every one of my last years of junior high, high school, and college. I've also surmised that I've probably performed in every elementary school, at least once, in both the Salt Lake and Utah valleys. Crazy little fun coincidence.

I'm now in my final months of grad school. I'd sworn to myself that I would take a theatre break, at least on the performance side of things, for the duration, since there was no time. Still, my friend, Midge, convinced me that I should audition for the upcoming Institute play. I was told there were vocal solos and reading parts and that I would be a great addition. With only one or two rehearsals a week, I decided to go for it.

Lo and behold, it was an actual musical, Witnesses, written by our Institute director, and I was offered the lead! I was playing Catherine Jones Bennett, the matriarch of a pioneer family, traveling from Wales to the Salt Lake valley, and we were telling the story of our family and those we met along the way. The music was beautiful, the stories uplifting, and it was a great bunch of people I was working with. I made several new friends (many of whom made me feel very welcome in my new ward yesterday) and had a wonderful time with it, even if I had to come home many times to work on school projects late into the night.

It wasn't until moments before our opening performance that I realized that once again, I was in the final year of school and in a touring show! Sure, we were touring to local stake centers instead of elementary schools, and we only had a handful of performances instead of dozens, but it was a touring show nonetheless!

It was never my intention to create such a tradition, but I'm certainly grateful for it. I have great memories from those tours and am so glad that I was part of it all. I suppose that if I do go for more education, I'll have to find more touring shows, even if its puppet shows in my friend's living rooms.


Nancy said...

Suh-weet! I'm up for a puppet show. And it had better be good. ;)

Andrew was in the Pressure Group in Junior High. He's a nerd like that. Or is that geek?

You did beautifully in all the plays/musicals/performances I've seen you in and I'm sure this one was no different.

Congratulations on doing the show and on finishing your degree! Yippee!

AmandaStretch said...

Thanks Nancy! I thought I remembered Andrew being part of the demo team, but I couldn't remember what group he was in. And I'll let you know as soon as I'm booking my puppet tour. :)

Myrna said...

Awesome, Bubbles! Did you know that for a couple of years I didn't know that your name was Amanda; I only knew you as Bubbles. Now I have known you as Amanda for a long time, and I had forgotten about the Bubbles bit. I always thought it suited you because you are so bubbly and fun to be around. And a great performer!

Giggles said...

Yeah for weird traditions!