While rehearsing for a show in Chicago for a week, I had the pleasure of experiencing some must-see places and food. My castmates and I saw some beautiful architecture and, of course, took necessary touristy pictures at The Bean. We also had some ridiculously cheesy deep dish pizza and delicious dinners and drinks on rooftops and throughout different neighborhoods of good ole Chi-town.
One night, one of our castmates (Julia Merchant - check her out) was performing at Davenport Piano Bar and Cabaret. After a couple hours of enjoying her renditions of hit songs, the late night show started. We figured we’d stay for a song or two and ended staying for hours. It was a couple, one singing from behind the piano and one singing in front, performing whatever songs we wanted to hear. They declared a Broadway Medley and asked every single person in the bar for a musical to pull from.
Not only did every single person in the bar know a musical other than Wicked and The Lion King - wait, musical theatre is common knowledge in some places? - but the servers jumped on the bar and tables, switched microphones, and had their own diva moments all evening.
You could tell the two men had been doing this sort of entertainment for years because their comedic timing was on point and left me cackling the entire time. I couldn’t remember the last time my gut and cheeks hurt so much. They cleverly altered lyrics to classic show tunes like, “Five-hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes and times that we’ve sung this song…” where the whole bar then split into all the appropriate harmonies.
While that probably seems like a silly group of grown-up theatre kids at a sing-along, it was the warmest my heart has felt in some time. The creative arts are my constant inspiration but in the last couple years my drive has shifted from musical theatre performance to writing solo indie music and freelance writing (which is great and those things make me happy but…) theatre doesn’t have much security so once I completed my degree, my priorities rearranged to finding more efficient ways to #hustle. As time passes, I can’t help but feel my “redirection” has just led me to aimlessness. The more types of opportunities I seek the less focused I feel. In the meantime, theatre songs hardly make it to my ears anymore and shows are too pricey to buy tickets for except the occasional once-a-season splurge.
Now that I’m not performing theatre all the time, it has been trickling away from my lifestyle… and that’s a problem. Feeling that camaraderie of thirty or so people knowing every word to almost every show tune made me feel home again. Being in a bar with complete strangers, I felt more comfortable than I have at home in Florida for years.
While musical theatre certainly doesn’t give every artist or person that warm fuzzy feeling, we all have it about something. For some it’s gardening or drawing comic strips or knitting scarves. Sometimes it’s baking or building Lego houses. Maybe even scrapbooking or working on an antique car. Everyone has those magical activities that bring out our inner child and give us a home, wherever we are.
Does that “special thing” not make you money or fit your career pursuits? That’s perfectly okay! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t find some way to incorporate it into our lives. Even if it seems like an extra thing to balance on our plate, if it truly brings that peace of mind, it’s worth it.
I am going to start listening to new musicals and more of my favorite show tunes. I am going to put more effort into researching shows around town. My special thing is worth the time and energy, and so is yours.
What is your special thing? How are you going to bring more of it into your lifestyle? Post about it with the hashtag #SpecialEmpaThing or share it in the comments below.
Until next week!
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