When I was a young girl, some of my best memories were of times spent with Aunt Grace. She would take me on bus trips to see musicals. Sometimes she would let me bring along a friend or my mom and grandma would go. I would stay overnight at Grace’s house the night before. I would always end the evening with a bubble bath. Then we were up before dawn to catch the bus.
One of the first shows that I remember seeing was Hello Dolly in Chicago. I don’t remember a lot about the show. Grace was excited that Mickey Rooney was in it. Plus the main female actress was rather old, maybe around 80. I don’t remember her age…I could be way off. What was old to me then is a lot different than what is old to me now. Heck, she could have been 40 but I don’t think so. Grace was excited that the female lead could do the splits and dance with the energy of a young adult. I remember being in awe of that too since I couldn’t dance, much less do the splits as a little girl.
Then Grace took me on a bus trip to see Oklahoma at the Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson. I remember the meal before the show. Grace let me sit at the head of the table in a big theatrical wicker chair. They brought food out to the table that was on fire. I remember little of the show.
The next show that we were supposed to see, we didn’t end up going to. We were hit by a big snowstorm the night before and couldn’t go. I was so disappointed. Not long after that, Grace took me to see Annie at a local high school. Then she bought orange material and sewed me an Annie dress which unfortunately I did not wear that much.
When I was an adult, she still wanted to see shows. We watched Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon. I remember glancing over at Grace during the opening scene of Miss Saigon when the women came out on stage in thongs. I thought that she would be appalled, but she loved the show.
I think that all of those good memories prompted me to get on stage despite my shyness. When Grace found out that I could sing, she always asked me to sing songs in church. Then I started to audition for musicals at the local community theater. The first musical that I auditioned for, I took my daughter Angelique to audition as well when she was 8 years old. She has been singing and acting ever since.
The last couple of weekends, Angel has been auditioning for college and a summer performing job. She picked her college and auditioned for both the musical theater and vocal performance programs. The vocal performance program accepted her on the spot. We are still anxiously waiting to hear back from the musical theater program and the summer job which are much more competitive.
I feel that Aunt Grace was very instrumental in my love for the theater. This appreciation was passed down to Angel. I love the way that family blessings have a way of trickling down through the generations. Sometimes you never know the effect that you have on other people. Sometimes I wonder what my grandchildren will be like. Or I ponder over how different my life would be if I never had someone special like Aunt Grace in my life.