One morning I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. It was casting day for the big show. I rocked my audition and was sure I’d be cast in one of the lead female roles. So I got out of bed, curled my hair in hot rollers, put on my frilliest blue dress with a lace trim and black patent leather shoes. I was in the second grade.
This was my first real foray into the theater, aside from all the at-home productions my sister and I performed for our parents. At my audition I felt like such a natural in front of an audience, that I decided then and there I was meant to become an actress.
The show was called Stone Soup. This musical was based on the old folk tale about poor, hungry travelers who come to a village looking for food. When the selfish villagers refuse to give them any, the weary travelers are forced to create their own soup, made with two big stones. The travelers eventually start asking the villagers for other ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, spices, etc, and suddenly they have created a fabulous Stone Soup that the whole town wants to taste.
Between all the villagers and travelers, there were lots of adorable female roles in which I could have been cast. I was cute, with my bangs, ringlets and dimples. But no, I was cast as a man. The weary Traveling Soldier desperately looking for a juicy soup bone to add to his Stone Soup.
When I first saw the cast list, I ran to the bathroom and cried. The Traveling Soldier? Why couldn’t I have been the pretty maiden, or the milkmaid? Not only was I cast as a man, but I had to sing about a JUICY SOUP BONE. All the other girls got to sing about carrots and tomatoes, and I had to sing about a juicy soup bone!
But once I accepted my fate, I eventually realized that I has been cast in a lead role. It was a very important part, singing about a very key ingredient.
After two months of rehearsal, it was finally showtime. I was ready for my big stage debut. All the other girls had their hair in curls, with red, rosy cheeks and pretty dresses. I, on the other hand, had my hair slicked back, and wore a soldier’s uniform, with a big orange sash across my chest. Testosterone was soaring through my tiny, second grade body.
I waited in the wings for my big entrance. My stomach was churning. My palms were sweating. When my cue came, my teacher gave me a wink and I walked onstage. The moment I took my place, with the bright spotlight in my eyes, I suddenly felt calm. My nerves disappeared as I introduced myself as the weary Traveling Soldier in need of food. Once rejected by the villagers, I walked downstage defiantly to prepare a large pot of Stone Soup. Then I marched back to the village singing “you can’t have soup without a BIG, JUICY SOUP BONE!”
The audience roared with applause, and a diva was born.