Monday, June 10, 2013

My Life Is a High School Musical

I have always loved theater, especially musicals. In high school, no matter how dreadful the halls were, or how awful the kids behaved toward me, I could always escape to that darkened, hallowed place of magic and art … my high school auditorium. When school got to be too much to bear, I would escape into the sanctuary of back stage for respite from the cruel teen world. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I slept, occasionally I laughed with others I encountered but I always transcended … and healed.  *Shout out to the Vaca High Drama Club!*

My best friends were all theater geeks. Together, we explored the daring and provocative world of high school theater, both on and off stage.  One of my fondest memories was cutting class to catch a nap on stage during tech week for Once Upon a Mattress (come on, giant mattress!) with about fifteen other kids.
Me & Tony taking a bow in You Can't Take it With You.

 After high school, when I relocated to the Midwest, my first family was a community of players. How ironic that by banding together to make believe, we could simultaneously build something real. Is it any wonder that I gravitate toward creating characters with an intrinsic passion for the arts? In DOON, my character, Kenna Reid lives, eats, and breathes Broadway. And although we may differ on our favorite musical of all time, we both agree in the genius of Sondheim and NPH.
Steven Sondheim and NPH (That's Neal Patrick Harris for you lesser beings; Barney Stinson of HIMYM for you couch potatoes, and Doogie Howser for you old folks.)
It was deeply satisfying to write a character whose entire high school existence was drama club, because I was her (minus all the leading roles). Without my high school drama program, my teen years would have been a dark and lonely prison sentence that I may not have endured … at least not with the same compassion, wit, and humor. My twenties would have been lackluster and disconnected instead of filled with the richness of performing great shows like Into the Woods, Children of Eden, and The Boys Next Door
The cast of The Boys Next Door (me - center & pregnant) with our director.

Today, in an alternate universe, I wouldn’t know the joy of watching Little Shop of Horrors and Phantom of the Opera with my daughter and singing along at the top of our lungs. Without the art of theatre, my life and writing would be bereft … And I will be forever grateful that I found my little corner of the sky when I needed it most. 

In case you missed our recent Broadway/BEA in NYC recaps:

YOUR TURN: Did the arts make a difference in your high school existence? Tell us about it!

In the first book of the new Doon Series, Veronica and her best friend, Mackenna, travel to Scotland for the summer in hopes of finding some peace. But the Scottish countryside holds a host of secrets—including a passageway to a mysterious land that appears to be a living fairy tale. In the land of Doon, the girls could have everything they’ve ever longed for … or end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that could soon become a nightmare. Coming 8.20.2013 from BLINK.


Marni Bates said...

My town is known for its theater (Oregon Shakespeare Festival!) but I wouldn't say that it was ever a high school musical. Then again, my personal favorite as a kid was Annie Get Your Gun. Not sure what that says about me... :D

Pintip said...

Great post, Carey! I loved seeing the photos of you from your high school theater days. Can't say that I was ever involved with high school drama, but I was always intrigued by it. Thanks for sharing your experience -- it sounds like such a special time!

Carla Luna Cullen said...

Wonderful post! In high school, drama was my salvation! Our school did large-scale musicals and children's theater, both of which were great experiences. My teenage daughter shares the same passion, and we love going to see musicals together - either touring ones or local high school productions.

CareyCorp said...

@Marni - I've been to that Shakespeare festival! In junior high! We stalked one of the younger, very cute actors! I have very fond memories of running amuck in Ashland!

@Pintip - We had our share of drama on and off-stage. That's for sure.

@Carla - so glad you had drama to fall back on. And how awesome that your daughter is passionate about it! Mine's nine and already LOVES musicals.