Being born and raised in the city that never sleeps, one would think that every little boy or girl grew up with Broadway dreams. Not the case unfortunately. New York is broken up to all sorts of neighborhoods and economic statuses. Of course that doesn't mean a child should not dream of being on stage and belting out a tune. It just means perhaps that child is unable to get exposed to such things.
I was blessed to see my first Broadway show when I was nine years old. It was The King and Iwith the one and only Yul Brenner. My father worked for Donald Trump at the time and was friendly was Mr. Brenner. My father was also recently widowed (about a year or so after my mother's passing) and he worked every shift he could get. I won't lie, my dad was a wreck. And on a personal note-I cannot wrap around my head losing the love of my life like he did. My dad is amazing. He worked all those shifts and managed to still chaperon school trips with me. He was the only dad there. Back when I was a little girl, dad's just didn't do those things, but mine did.
The show was magical but I didn't catch the Broadway bug until my dad asked me what I wanted for my 16th birthday. I was always acutely aware of my father's stresses, pains, worries, etc so I didn't want to ask for much. I did ask him if I could see Les Miserables on Broadway. Oh, and I asked if I could also be taken out to dinner. Most people I knew had Sweet 16 parties but I wanted to see Broadway--with its bright lights and all those fancy people. I just wanted a fancy night out with my daddy.
I don't know what happened but we didn't make it to dinner (which I still tease him that he owes me one!) but we made it to the show. And oh my! That show was incredible. A moving stage, singers all over the place, drama, intrigue, action, war, and romance.....swoon! It was fabulous! And I felt fabulous in the pretty black velvet dress my dad got for me-I felt like a princess that night.
Afterwards, my dad purchased the tape of the show for me and of course I listened the music everyday non-stop. I was always an expressive child and always attracted to the arts but I was also very shy (shocking huh?) and very introverted in many ways. Although I am an extrovert by nature, the circumstances of my life made me just very quiet and I didn't like attention too much.
I think of myself back then and wonder how I got the courage I did to do what I did, but I am reminded of what a passionate person I have always been. And I am also reminded at how brave I can be when I am focused on something I really, really want. Know what I mean?
So that year my music teacher had a singing workshop and I signed up. I had Broadway stars in my eyes but I knew that those who make it big also study their craft 24/7 (aka Rachel Berry from Glee). But I wanted to see if I had what it took to be on stage. Remember-I was shy and not as confidant as I should have been. But I had all this passion inside and I knew I had to go for it.
To top it off, my music teacher (from High School) also brought Judy Torres (his former student), who is a known freestyle music singer to the workshop as well. Freestyle music was and is very popular especially in the 1980's in more urban parts of New York such as the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. When I saw her I told myself not to get intimidated. I saw her insecurities and realized she was a girl doing what she loves, just like me. So I carried on and kept going past every obstacle--which for a teenager, almost everything seems like an obstacle.
I was preparing for my performance on stage when another girl who was an AMAZING singer, who had professional training and all, found out what I was going to sing and she tried her best to bring me down (sounds like an episode from "Glee" I know!). I took that and said to myself, "Um, I don't think so! I will show them all!!" And guess what....
I did! I sang my heart out and I received the only standing ovation from all the performances. My music teacher (who was known to be a music snob) came up to me and told me that I should be on BROADWAY!
This is Lea Michele from Glee singing the
song I sang, "On my own"
Sometimes dreams can be fulfilled in one moment-a moment like that one. I didn't really, really want to be on Broadway. I knew it would take a lifetime of dedication and resources and I knew that there were other things out there for me. But that one moment in time when I sang with an audience, when I got a standing ovation, and when I heard those magical words....those were enough for me.
Dreams sometimes change with time. Sometimes you have to take what you can from the dream you have. And sometimes your dreams can be fulfilled in ways that you never, ever imagined.
So, here is to dreaming. I hope you all continue to dream and find ways to make them come true. And when you do-go out and make new ones...I have!
PS Yes, I am a Gleek (fan of Glee) and I still go to Broadway shows when I can! *smile*