The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The entertainment bug
I remember the first time I was ever on stage. I was six years old and it was the First Grader's play at Liverpool Elementary School, where I was in Mrs. Metz's class. I was excited about the Play thing, as it meant something different to the usual lessons and reading time in class.

I recall the play as being a classic first grade play - about the poor man whose family complained all the time about their cramped little cottage, until he started inviting all of the other relatives and farm animals to move in. Roles were assigned in class, and I eagerly awaited to be appointed my role. Sadly, by the time Mrs. Metz got to me, all of the roles had been assigned, so I was appointed a non-speaking role made up on the spot: the family dog.

It was determined that I would stay under the kitchen table on all fours (as there was no other room on the stage.) I cut out a pair of long floppy hound-dog-like ears from brown construction paper for my costume (we all had to make our own costumes,) and proudly assumed my non-role for the play. Even then, I understood that there were no small roles - only small actors. I was determined to make the most of my family pet role.

It was the day of the performance. Several parents took time off from work to be there to see the play, and my parents were among them. The school auditorium (which was also the cafeteria) was full of other children (excited to be out of class for an hour) and parents with old fashioned Instamatic cameras and flash cubes that you had to pop on and remove after four flashes.

I wasn't paying attention to my classmates' lines. I was too busy scanning the audience. I'd occasionally remember what I was supposed to be doing on stage, and playfully pretended to bite a couple of the main performers on the leg.

It was an amazing view from up there. I looked, reassuring myself, for my parents' faces. The play went off with only one or two prompts for lines from the teacher, off stage, and finished with a song.

Now, we had practised this song many times with our music teacher, Mrs. Enos, who, I think, also wrote the song especially for our play. I knew the words by heart and eagerly looked forward to belting them out, considering I had no other words to speak. I was going to make the most of it.

One - two - three ... the piano intro began, and then there was a pause.

And I belted out the song...
a whole beat ahead of the rest of my class.

The parents in the audience giggled and my face turned red, but at the same time - for that one little beat, the play was about ME.

I paused and started in again, in time with my classmates. What a finale! Afterwards, a few of the other kids in the school came up to me and asked me "what were you supposed to be?"

"A dog!" I told them. Sheesh! Couldn't they tell by my floppy ears?

Later that day, I realised, despite the embarrassment, that I liked being on stage. I went through elementary school being a sailor, swabbing up the earth to keep it clean (for Earth Day), being an angel (in the operetta Hansel and Gretel), and also performing in countless school choral programs. I was hooked for life.

Many years later, I discovered that Mrs. Metz, who was right out of college when I was in first grade, was still teaching in the public school system. She was a teacher where my sons were attending school (in a different school district.) I figured that she would have been nearly 50. I wonder, had I contacted her through my sons' school, if she would remember the little dog under the table with the brown construction paper ears, and would she like to know that she started something?
posted by Melanie O. at 12:18 PM -
  • At 1:27 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    I barely remember that play...but I fondly remember the holiday concerts that took place at Christmas and called winter break and spring break. Good for you for remembering your teacher's names..they often fade from memory as time goes by.

  • At 8:35 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    You know, now that I'm thinking about it more, I think this was a play I did in kindergarten, not first grade, which would mean that I was in Mrs. Hopper's class. I remember many of my teachers - I used to love school.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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