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Theatrical flashbacks and forgotten dreams... - By Rebecca Wicks

Last night was “High School Musical night”. I mentioned last week how excited I was about its brief upcoming fling with DUCTAC, so I was even more excited that my friend took me along as his plus one, with some press tickets! At 28, my friends and I were the oldest people in the audience who didn’t have children with them. In the third row, a group of five year olds waving pink pom poms jumped up and down excitedly as the opening number kicked off. I practically had to put my hands over my ears when they started screaming in star-struck hysteria. I didn’t though, obviously; that would have made me look even older.

I was impressed from the word go. The kids on stage certainly looked like their Hollywood counterparts � even if they didn’t sound it. In spite of a few dubious notes in the key of amateur, however, the atmosphere in the theatre last night was amazing. I feel like I soaked up a whole heap of energy that hasn’t exactly been oozing out of me lately. Maybe it’s the heat, but I’d started to feel a bit drained. There’s nothing like a good show to make you feel great though � watching, putting yourself in the role, wishing it was you. I’ve always thought that a life on the stage was my silent calling, even though I dance worse than a grandma at a kid’s birthday party and my singing range stops somewhere between the karaoke bar and the shower. There’s always been something magnetic about the theatre, for me.

I remember my parents saying that when I was a kid, my teachers told them I was wasted at a normal school. Mum said they thought I should have gone to drama school. Looking back I think my teachers might have meant that the kid who carried a stuffed tiger round the playground, talking to it like her only friend, was probably special in another sort of way. But I never forgot that. Even though I’ve done quite a lot of exciting things so far, life could have been so very different, if I’d added a touch more drama.

Last night, the dud notes were practically drowned out, thanks to what sounded like the entire room singing along. Everybody knew the words. Even the mum in front of me was mouthing the lyrics as her daughter clapped her hands in the air. Her knowledge of her daughter’s obvious favourite musical was astounding and I felt a rush of envy. Not just because I wanted to know the words, but because when I took my mum to see the Care Bears Movie when I was 7, (my High School Musical equivalent) she didn’t even try. And there were some FANTASTIC songs in that movie. I think she fell asleep, actually, which, even at 7, offended me greatly.

We gate-crashed the after-party, at Sezzam near Ski Dubai last night. They had curtained off a section and filled it with ice-cream, popcorn, candy-floss, mini beef burgers and� surprisingly, beer. I think the little starlets were high on e-numbers by the time we got there, but I watched them jumping up and down in their gladrags, still singing songs from the show to each other, and remembered feeling the same after we’d wrapped the opening night of The Dracula Spectacular, back in my home town, when I was 12. I was a proud and just as hyperactive member of S.A.D.O.S. It stood for Spalding Amateur Dramatics Society, (still not sure what the O stood for) but as Mark pointed out last night, some 16 years too late, the rest of town probably called it �saddos’. I didn’t feel like a saddo for taking part though. I didn’t feel sad at all, back then. I felt the happiest I’ve probably ever been.

I wonder, did that happiness derive from the fact that I was soaking up the spotlight and feeding off an energy laced with fame and the prospect of worldwide (or at least Spalding-wide) recognition? Or was it because I was a kid, who hadn’t yet been smacked down by society, given a rulebook and told to perform for a bigger, far scarier audience? I think we all have our own High School Musical moments � when we realize that the world doesn’t really look the same as it used to. But I guess we can choose how we deal with it. At the end of the day, we can either let progression make us feel like a saddo� or be the bigger person and learn the new words.

Posted: 24 July 2008

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