What am I thankful for? A lot of things but today I am going to focus in on one thing in particular: my parents. I have great parents who not only exposed me to the arts but who also fostered and encouraged my love and participation in the arts. A lot of it probably comes from dad who when he was young sang with the San Diego Opera and when I was kid went to Japan with a touring production of Aida. He used to wake me and my friends up after a sleepover party playing Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano. My mother, god love her, couldn’t sing a note to save her life. My parents enrolled me in everything from ballet to figure skating to softball. Most of it I ended up quitting at one point of another. I had a very short attention span; however, the one thing I was required to do and not quit was piano. Back then I hated it. I hated practicing. I hated playing at recitals. I was very shy and got extremely nervous so much so that my hands would shake. Not so great for playing the piano in front of an audience. But then later in life I started taking voice lessons and, boy, was I grateful to have learned to sight-read music.
On a whim my dad took me to audition for the role of Cosette in the Vancouver touring production of Les Miserables when it first rolled into Vancouver. I think I was maybe 10. I can’t quite remember. All I do remember is that it was pretty much against my free will and I nearly peed my pants but he thought it would be a good experience. Obviously I didn’t get the part and as you can tell my dad believes in “tough love”. My mother was the one who gave me a giant hug when I came home bawling. Good cop, Bad cop. It must work.
When I was 12 my parents added me to their season subscription to the Vancouver Opera and I have been going ever since. They took me to see my first musicals: Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables (yes, the very same one I auditioned for). In high school when I joined the drama club they came to see every show I was in. When I wanted to go see a new rock musical based on the opera La Boheme who took me to see it? My parents.
Then I went to University and when I told them I wanted to do Theatre they didn’t once question it or say ‘are you sure?!’ or anything. They said ‘cool’ and that was that. So, there I was ASM’ing my first main stage production and my parents hopped on a ferry to come see it. I wasn’t even in the bloody thing. I was only 1 of 2 ASM’s. I lifted the sun prop into the sky in Act II. That was my contribution yet they still got on a ferry and stayed overnight to support me.
I talk a lot about fostering young audiences and a new generation of theatregoers but if every child could have my parents we probably wouldn’t even need to talk about getting young people out to the theatre. They would already be going to the theatre because their parents started exposing them to the arts when they were kids.
So, today, I am thankful to my parents who still come to see all my shows and support me and love me. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.