This one is for Norah, as it addresses my youngest daughter’s entry into the world of theater. Hannah is currently in “crunchtime” rehearsals for “Alice in Wonderland,” which means that her rehearsal hours per week really should be netting her vacation time and health insurance. “Alice” will be performed during the first week of April. Hannah is playing the role of the Three of Clubs, but she has all lines memorized for all characters — I’m really not kidding — and is prepared to step in as an understudy for anyone at all, should it be necessary. This was originally posted on April 15, 2007.
Hannah announced early last week that her class will be producing a play, to be performed at the end of the school year. They chose “Charlotte’s Web,” and she expressed interest in one of the lead roles — the part of Wilbur.
As the week progressed, Hannah’s desire to be Wilbur — to own the pig — became more urgent. She spoke, sometimes to me, occasionally just to herself, of several classmates who were also being considered for this role, and listed new reasons daily as to why she and she alone could do the part justice.
This worried me.
Each morning she declared that it was one day closer to the Day of Reckoning — Thursday — when the parts would be officially posted at a table in her classroom. It was clear to me that her hopes were so laser-focused on this one role that she might be losing sight of the fact that the play would be fun no matter what part she got. She mentioned that she was also being considered for the part of the narrator, so I did my best to sell her the idea that the narrator also had an extremely important job. Unfortunately, I knew that my consolation speech was pointless, as the narrator does not get to faint three times, sit in Fern’s lap, or wear a fuzzy pink suit.
Thursday morning, as Hannah packed up her homework, morning snack and jumprope, she reminded me that today was the day. She would learn her theatrical destiny as soon as she walked past her hallway cubby and into her classroom.
“Mom, when I come home later, you’ll know that I’m Wilbur if I have a biiiiig smile on my face,” she said. Of course, I cringed, concerned about the opposite scenario, imagining her little face contorted with pain and streaked with tears once she found out she was slated to play any other role.
All day, I worried, preparing to comfort my little blonde if she came home disappointed.
At precisely 3:45, I heard the loud rumble of Bus #9, as it groaned to a halt in front of the house. I raced to the front door. Act casual, I ordered myself. Hannah disembarked, looking at her feet.
As she approached the door, she glanced up and saw me, and made an effort to flash a big, toothy “Hi, Mom!” grin. I read it as a brave attempt to show me that she was okay, and prepared for the tears.
From inside the front door, I watched as she crossed the lawn, squishing the mud beneath her boots. She walked up the steps and ditched her backpack at the threshold. Then she stretched her arms out to both sides, threw her head back, and loudly declared: “I’M WIIIIIIILBUR!!!“
I have no idea how she is going to memorize all those lines.
I’m also not sure how to address this disturbing conflict of interest.
UPDATE: Mrs. P told the class earlier in the week that whomever got the role of Wilbur would have to be someone with a loud voice. Hannah is quite proud to have been positively recognized for her lack of volume control.