It's strange because I feel like the one person missing will be my mom.
I'm thankful that my mom was able to see me perform numerous times as I was growing up. I had two tap and jazz recitals between the ages of 7 and 9 and 2 great roles in my elementary school musicals including Leah Ballerina in Clowns and Mrs. Claus in The Night the Reindeer Rocked. She attended countless choir and band concerts and I distinctly remember her being at Roy Thompson Hall when our choir performed there in elementary school. Truth be told, I don't think musical theatre or choral music was my mom's cup of tea, but I know that she was determined to support me in whatever I loved to do.
I've often thought about my mother's absence on opening nights or during runs of shows that I was particularly proud of. The first performance I think I officially dedicated to my mum was my graduating show at Randolph. The show was Into the Woods and I had been cast as Cinderella. I remember the first time I had to sing No One is Alone in rehearsal. Rosalie, who was also playing Cinderella had to go first because I was just sitting in the audience crying. Cinderella's story along with the lyrics to the song just hit so close to home and it really hit me in that rehearsal. Throughout the rehearsal process, I found myself working hard to utilize my own experience in my performance in a safe way.
This month I've felt closer to my mom than I have in such a long time. Through choosing the songs, reading her journal, talking about her with people who knew her and talking to people about depression, mental illness and suicide I've felt so connected to her. It's been 15 years since I've had the chance to talk to her or see her, but I've definitely felt her presence this month. The show includes a lot of songs that remind me of her and our particularly memorable years together and I think she would really like what we've put together.
My mom loved Diana Ross. Her music reminded my mom of my Uncle Tim who passed away when I was 9. This song almost made it into the show, but Tara and I decided on another Diana Ross track instead. It still comes up on my Life is Sweet playlist and I definitely think about my mom whenever I hear it.