When I was growing up my mother always had a Girl Scout troop. The number of Girl Scouts that have changed my diaper is slightly embarrassing. My Mom was always planning the next adventure for them. They went to England (which is why my first birthday was on a plane), they went camping everywhere you’re allowed to pitch a tent, and she took them to as much theatre as possible.
When I was three she decided to take them to see Arsenic and Old Lace. At the last minute one of the girls got sick, and since my mother refused to waste a ticket, she decided to take me in her place. I was too little to see if I sat in my seat, so I insisted on standing in the aisle. I’m sure the actors and the other audience members were shocked to see a pudgy-legged three-year-old standing stock still in the middle of the aisle, but that’s where I wanted to be. I was entranced.
For those of you who haven’t seen Arsenic and Old Lace, which you should buy tickets to as soon as possible, the show is about two old women who enjoy killing people. The bodies are then buried in the basement by a man who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, and the graves he digs to be part of the Panama Canal.
Every time Teddy went to the basement to dig a new grave, he would run down the stairs screaming, “to Panama!” and no one yelled at him for screaming or for running down the stairs. He got to do exactly what he wanted, and he had a shovel all his own! He was a part of a wondrous world that I needed to join.
After the show the cast came out to the lobby for a meet n’ greet. I ran right up to Teddy and the dear sweet man went down on one knee to talk to me. I climbed up on his knee and held on for dear life. I was enamored. I had caught the proverbial bug.
When we went home, I nearly gave my mother a heart attack and possibly an ulcer charging down our stairs screaming “to Panama!” risking my little neck. Even after she banned running on the stairs I would still sneak into the hall and charge down the stairs screaming when she least expected it. We eventually came to a compromise. I wouldn’t run down stairs, she would let me do a play.
I made my stage debut as the smallest munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. My mother had no idea that she was opening herself up to years of auditions and dance recitals. I ended up going to college for dance and have spent my time since performing around the country. I even came full circle and played the tallest munchkin in Oz. Please enjoy the photographic proof.