Where do I even begin???
It's been quite some time since I've updated Portage Road Diaries (which is kind of hilarious seeing as I've been living on Portage Road). Now, I’m back in the big city and getting my butt in gear!
These past few months have been an absolute whirlwin of adventures and excitement. I'm specifically talking about my job, which I still can't believe counts as "work" seeing as it was the MOST fun. So, I thought I'd give a little update about what it was like working as "Anne with an E" this summer in the hub of everything Green Gables, PEI!
A little history on this show is much needed. Every kid that grows up on PEI knows the story of Anne of Green Gables. We learn about the author, Lucy Maud, we read the books in school, and we even have Anne's little face on our license plates. As kids, we don't understand the global impact this book has had on society. We take our "red dirt roads" for granted, we see farms in every direction, and we probably haven't seen "That Musical in town" for at least 10 years. Well, not only is "That Musical" completely Canadian (music, lyrics, book, choreography), but it's also been playing on the same stage for fifty-one years. What's that? You think you read that wrong? No, no. You read it right. FIFTY. ONE. YEARS!! Probably 85% of musical theatre performers in Canada can say they have performed in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival. It's almost like a right of passage into the business!
Growing up on the Island, I saw the show approximately 1209379385 times. I was constantly mesmerized by the magic on stage. Specifically by the spunky little girl with red braids and freckles. Her zest for life, her distinguished language, and her incomparable outburst were just a few things that made me fall in love with Anne and the show.
My Grammie use to clean the Theatre at the Confederation Centre, and a girl named Gracie Finley worked as an usher. Gracie said to my Grammie, "I'm going to be Anne someday." And low and behold, she went on to be the very 1st Islander to play Anne Shirley. I loved when my Grammie would tell me that story. When I was around 11 years old, I started measuring myself to make sure I wasn't growing. I knew that if I got too tall, I wouldn't be able to be Anne, like Gracie!
Okay, I seriously need to commend every single girl in the past who has ever played Anne. You really don't realize what a true marathon it is until you have to pee in Act 2 and learn (the hard way) that there isn't a single moment for a pee break. Every Anne I've seen made it look so effortless and easy, so BRAVA!
The first day of rehearsal, I had more energy than a Durecell bunny (x10). I showed up to the Meet and Greet all giddy and gay, only to find a completely empty room. Low and behold, I showed up AN HOUR TOO EARLY. So naturally I laughed it off and bought a coffee to shoot me into energetic oblivion. We did a read through, and I started weeping as soon as our MD (music director) Bob played the first note in the Overture. I think I used a whole box of Kleenex. Katie Kerr, of course, caught that on camera:
After the first read through, the crying didn’t really stop.... So I compiled a list of "The Things That Made Me Cry During The Anne Process". Here it is :
First read through
I was an emotional wreck, in the best possible way. The show itself could make Kristen Stewart shed a tear, so that was part of it. The other part was just how surreal it all felt. I felt like I wanted my Mom and Dad to be in the rehearsal room with me so I could shout “Look Mommy! I’m on the buggy!” or “Look Daddy! I have green hair!” I seriously felt like little Jessica was out and about, and every time I let my 22 year old self out, I would (as Oprah says) UGLY cry!
The summer was as magical as I anticipated it would be. Sharing this experience with my family was by far the best part. I'll never forget seeing my little sister in the 2nd row on opening night wiping her tears away, or hugging my mom in the lobby after the first preview.
The cast and creative team was a dream. We had people from all corners of Canada, and their kindness and exuberance was contagious. I've been so lucky to work at home, where I'm surrounded by my family every single day. But in theatre you pack your bags - a lot - mostly to find yourself in a city that you've never seen, where you don't know a soul. It's not easy, but I think every person in the cast this year found a piece of home on the Island. Everyone was just so lovely, and there were incredible friendships formed that I think will last a lifetime.
** I just remembered this and wanted to put it in here so I won't forget it happened. ** One night, I accidentally flung a rubber frog into an audience members face. Yes, right into her face. I wanted to stop the show and say, "Wow, I am so sorry. That frog is probably 50 years old, and you probably already had dinner". But instead I had a laugh attack in my head and continued the show. I also sweat like a pig every show. I've always been a sweaty person. Like, in gym class when we would do the beep test, or even play dodge ball, I would look like this:
That hasn't changed.
I think I scared some children. They probably thought Anne was melting like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. "I'M MELTING! AHH! DIANA HELP MEEEE!"
I could honestly go on about the summer forever. It's nice for me to write it out, because when people ask "How was your summer?!", it's so hard to put it into words. The Confederation Centre and this show are so important to me because it's where I found my passion. That is what the Confed Centre is all about; Inspiring youth and getting them involved in the arts. That's why I don't mind talking about my experience, and yelling to the world that my dream came true. I didn't know that I could have a career singing and dancing (WHAT!?) UNTIL I went to the Confederation Centre. We need places like the this to encourage young people to sing, and paint, and dance, and write, and draw, and express themselves in any other way than through a Facebook status.
Thank you so much to everyone who came to see the show this summer. It was so special to see old and new familiar faces in the audience! It was a life changing experience with so many learning curbs and discoveries, and I'm happy I got to share a little piece of it with you on Portage Road Diaries :)
Hi! I'm Jessica. I love beaches, ice cream, onesies, and cuddles. I try to follow my instincts in all aspects of life. I love hearing peoples stories; How they got to the exact moment they're in. The glass is half full. I love the big dipper. The Secret changed my life. Love is w o n d e r f u l. August 24th is my favourite day (No, it's not my birthday). YOU. ARE. ENOUGH. Yolo-ing through life, but mostly singing.