by McKenzey Testerman
When I think about my experience with Acting Out Theater Co. this summer, lots of memories and emotions flood my mind. There were some nights, like the June bug massacre, when I was prone to wonder, “Why are we doing this outside?” But there were other nights when the sun would be setting in the castle’s west wing and it all made sense.
A pivotal moment for me was opening night. We had all gotten our hair and makeup done, we had our costumes on, and we were ready to go. It started to get a little cloudy so we were looking at the radar on our phones. We watched as the storm started to head our way, growing bigger and bigger. Most of us had already been delivered to the stage, so we loaded back into the van and headed for shelter, all the while hoping we wouldn’t need it. We piled into the Farm House and waited it out.
Though our hearts were sinking, we kept our spirits up. Saying things like “Oh it’ll be past us by 8:30”. Then when 8:30 passed but the storm didn’t, we said, “It’ll definitely be gone by 9:00,” but we didn’t get to find out. The show was cancelled at 8:40. When Sharon came into the room to tell us that they were going to call it, you could feel the disappointment in the air. But you could also feel the love.
It was on tough nights like that one that our cast became a family. At the time, I could not see a silver lining on a single one of those storm clouds, but the rain that weekend left us with rainbows and cooler weather. God had our backs all along. And, because of the storm, I got to spend an extra day, singing and dancing, with my wonderful cast.
Every hot and humid night, every disappointing rain cloud, and every single bug bite was made worth it when we stepped out on that stage and were met with the lit up faces of little girls dressed in yellow ball gowns as well as those of parents and grandparents. Magic has no age limit.
They didn’t know that it took three months to nail our harmony, they didn’t know that I had to duct tape my strapless bra to myself because it lost its stickiness two shows ago, and they definitely didn’t know about that time a June bug flew out of Louis’ mouth.
All they knew was that Belle was falling in love with the Beast at their local Perry Farm: a place they might drive by every day, a place they might never have given a second glance. But now, there’s magic there. Even after the costumes are sent back and the stage is torn down, the community will still be able to reminisce about the beauty and love that was brought to life there.
Theater blurs the line between fantasy and reality just enough so we can drift away from the struggles of this life for just an hour or two and fall in love with a beast right alongside of a beauty. And that’s why I’m a theater kid.
Theater, like Belle’s time with the Beast, is not easy. You might not walk away unscathed but you will also not walk away unchanged.
So as I’m sitting here, receiving Snapchats of everyone’s new haircuts (you know it’s over when everyone chops their hair off), I’m not dwelling on all the hardships. I am dwelling on the blessings of the summer and thanking the Lord for every single person who, because of this production, has changed my life. Thank you.