Veronica went to her first real performance. Understand, she’s barely sat through Dumbo in one sitting. Her whole life it’s been about being able to move around. She doesn’t focus for long periods of time.
It’s not her thing.
But her friend Laura, a BIG GIRL who just started kindergarten, was in a play. Oliver!
We knew this very directly, because after church Laura and Veronica played on the stage. Veronica did improvisational storytelling, singing and dancing. Laura practiced.
For her performance, I was nervous. I wanted Veronica to go, but it was right in the middle of naptime.
One of the benefits of Veronica’s only-child existence is her father’s extraordinary ability to plan and make sure that her life is never taxing. What ever we’ve planned to do, it’s not going to be too much for her.
So a two-hour performance during naptime would normally be right out unapproved. But this was a once in a lifetime thing! Her first show, with her friend–basically a peer–in it.
I told Veronica we would be watching Laura sing and dance on stage. She said “I want to go on stage with her.” Well, not this time because she’s been practicing for a long time and it’s her turn to do it alone.
“Then it will be my turn!”
The day of the show, I told her a little more. I told her we would be going to a beautiful theater, like Angelina Ballerina. THE BOOK, not the show.
So, I dressed and she dressed. We went into Bridges auditorium.
She whispered, “Wow.”
Boy, it is a beautiful theater. She was impressed with the red velvet seats and the soaring ceiling with greek gods painted in silver outlined. We talked and pointed and then the lights when down. The leader in the orchestra pit said:
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!
Veronica gasped. This was the real deal. She had heard this, she had called it out herself at the beginning of her pretend performances, and here it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Her face was electrified, her mouth open.
The performance began. It started slowly, but it began with a song. Laura was in that part and she looked so different as an orphan it was hard to tell it was her. Then the story went on.
“I don’t like this part Mommy. THey are not singing.”
‘They will sing again soon, don’t worry”
Oliver had a song “Where is love?” He brought out a single candle onto the stage and sat down lonely next to it, singing about his loneliness.
Veronica buried her head in my lap.
Through tears she said, “it’s so sad.”
My mouth was open now. This simple tableau moved her that much?”
She was ready for the intermission when it came, and she wasnt’ sure what has happening. She wanted to go play with another friend that was there. I had to tempt her back by saying “What do you think will happen to Oliver?”
We went back. Bill Sykes sang his scary song, and she stood up and made clawing monster motions. She was the monster. And then Nancy got shot.
“Oh NO! She is killed! That’s not okay. That’s not okay to kill.”
This was darker than anything she’d seen before. When it was over, they came out and took their bows
“After my little nap, it’s my turn.”
Back to explaining about how it takes practice, but that if she wanted to do it we would make sure that she had her turn. We waited in the foyer for her friend, but she didn’t come out. We went back in to find her, and her mommy had gotten involved in a conversation with someone near her seat.
The beautiful empty theater was all around us, and her friend walked up to us, “It’s over Veronica.”
Veronica ducked into my side to hide her face again. Oh no, what’s wrong. “I want my turn mommy.”
Next sunday Laura pulled Veronica around by the nose, saying she would teach Veronica musical theater.
Veronica is not so tractable. I have always thought her personality was more suited to directing things than taking direction. But Laura had the goods. No matter how incomprehensible her directions, Veronica did everything she was told with no complaining.
Laura knew. And Veronica wanted to know. It didn’t matter if it was strange and incomprehensible, she was going to learn.
That afternoon I took Veronica with me to a housewarming party. Predictably, she went shy. She didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t know so many of the people either, but Veronica kept me busy tending her in the bedroom as she played kitty.
My friend, no HER friend, Jess appeared. Veronica makes strong attachements to certain people. She ran downstairs as soon as she heard Jessica had arrived, gave her a huge hug and decided downstairs was ok after all.
She saw the downstairs den had promise. She spread two blankets on the floor, scattered all the pillows around them and said ‘This is my stage.”
She put her hand to the side of her mouth and called out “People!”
“Veronica, people get to decide for themselves if they want to come. They might be playing with their other friends. Go ahead and do your performance.”
So she began. It was a musical story, involving running and monsters and scary and running and getting caught and almost getting caught. I admit, I didn’t appreciate it until she got to the part about running to the left and running to the right. She swung her arms in the correct direction.
Her audience had started to come in, and they were listening, but they were also visiting with each other as they sat on the furniture.
She received numerous rounds of applause, and she was going to keep their attention.
This would not do! It was HER show. She continued her story-song, but ran sweeping across the row of people. She spilled Jessica’s wine, and then pushed against the stomach of another woman there.
“Veronica! Be careful! Gentle with the audience!”
It’s not just that she loved the musical Oliver. It’s that she began immediately to practice this new art form.
They are having a performance of Wizard of OZ. I hope that she can learn the lyrics. Munchkins have some complicated songs