Tag Archives: theatre

My Childhood is Being Torn Down Bit by Bit and I’m Not Mad About Some of it.

This year is a tough one for the places I went to school.  The high school that I loved with all my heart and graduated from is being torn down because the district is combining my school with the other high school in the district to create one mega school.  My elementary school which I loved is being torn down, and right next to it, the school I went to for junior high is being torn down.  These two are being replaced by a park.  It is the junior high building that I’m going to write about here.

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It was in this building that I learned the most about life.  I moved into this building in the fourth grade, and it’s where I began to learn that standing out in any way could be bad. A couple of my friends and I wrote a play and with our teacher’s permission, performed it for the class.  Mistake.

In fifth grade, I had Mr. Hudie (pronounced Huoodeye) and I lost so many of my teeth in his class that he finally just started motioning me out of the room when I would raise my hand at inappropriate times.  He also turned bright red and spit when he’d get mad and yell, and boy was he a yeller.  It was funny and terrifying all at once.

It was also in fifth grade where I began to learn that sticking up for a friend could cause you a lot of trouble with other kids.  It’s where I began to think about myself before thinking of others. It’s where I began to learn that people you’d been friends with all your life couldn’t necessarily be trusted.

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Seventh grade was a big deal because we moved to the top floor. In seventh grade I learned that the tall boys always wanted to date the short girls and since girls grew up first, my 5’6″ (at the time) self started looking at older boys.  Mistake.

I also learned in this grade that sometimes teachers liked mean kids better than nice kids and they were perfectly capable and willing, to egg on the mean kids.  I also learned that making really good grades could get you picked on, but if you let the straight A’s go, the crappy mean kids would leave you alone, at least about that.  It’s also where I learned that sometimes when people thought they were insulting you by calling you Farrah when you got your blonde hair cut into feathers, that they were actually comparing you to one of the most beautiful women of all time (remember that red bathing suit poster anyone?) and instead of cringing because of it, I should’ve tossed said blonde hair and laughed at them. Ahhh hindsight.  Seventh grade also taught me that genuinely short men, under say 5’6″, hate and despise tall women and will make fun of them and give them shitty nicknames. To that guy I say, dude, you looked like a chubby leprechaun and I hope you’re still short and I hope you got genuinely obese. And bald.

Eighth grade introduced me to lecherous teachers. A nasty, child molesting asshole, who a few years later lost his next job and maybe his teaching license for his disgusting ways. It’s where I learned that there was a big difference between a teenage boy telling you that you looked nice in a pretty dress and a 40 year old teacher pulling you out of music class to tell you that you look nice. It’s where I learned that if you forgot a book in your locker, you should always take your mom into the empty school with you to look for it; because when you go in alone, you might discover that you didn’t forget your book, your pervert science teacher picked up your book when you went to the bathroom in his class and he was standing at the top of the stairs with it in his hand waiting for you. It’s also where I learned that you can back perverts off with a loud voice, a threat of violence, and a hasty retreat sans book. It was on my desk the next day when I went into his room. He never spoke to me again, gave me an effortless A in the class and disappeared to a new school over the summer. It’s when I learned to tell my mother EVERYTHING.

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I learned about voting in that school because when I was little my parents voted in the basement.  In genuine voting booths with American flags across the opening for privacy. It’s where I won a talent show with my fantastic patriotic tumbling routine when I was little and where I won a couple of Halloween costume contests. It’s where I learned about jealousy, both mine and that directed at me. It’s where I learned that I really loved performing and began to want to be an actress. It’s where I got my first on-stage laughs because I refused to kiss my co-star so we rewrote the script and put in some physical comedy (falling off the back of the couch together and kicking our legs around like we were making out, and going in a closet together, with me coming out with his coal black wig on top of my very blonde head to imply more making out; it was supposed to be his black mustache, but he forgot it) that made the high school principle come up to us after the play and tell us we should consider acting as a profession. It’s where the seeds of the cruelty and bullying that would cause me to change schools, lose my friends and the only life I’d known were sown.

I’m sad about my elementary school and my high school being torn down, but I’m not sad about this school being torn down. I have some good memories there, but the majority of them are unpleasant, heartbreaking, sad, scary, infuriating, and unfair. The things I learned in that place made me cautious, suspicious, and untrusting. In a way though, I guess I wouldn’t trade it, because it made me tough. It gave me an edge that I otherwise would not have. It made me a better person and a ferocious mother. It taught me about human nature and character or lack thereof. It gave me one of the best bullshit detectors known to man, and it’s protected me because I will take no crap. From anyone.

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So you beautiful old building full of ghosts, adios. After you’re gone, I’m going to come walk through the park that will replace you and I’ll gather up the little ghostly wisps of myself that are trapped there. I’ll incorporate them back into that little girl still hiding inside of me, and she and I will flip you the bird when we leave. Because that’s who you made us.

Be kind to someone today.  It’s a gesture that many are denied.

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Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale Makes Me Wanna ROCK

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When rockers reach a certain age, one of the following things usually happens. They either dreamed of burning out, but they fade away; they try to continue performing the way they always have before, blissfully unaware that they look like the Crypt Keeper, and have mostly lost their voices, strutting about like roosters, making final millions off their glory days; they appear to have made deals with the devil, continue to perform as they always have, looking and sounding BETTER than in their glory days, when in reality, they should be melting in a corner somewhere from all the toxic substances they and their friends imbibed, making mere mortals yearn for a hot gray streak and some tight pants; OR, they reinvent themselves. Who would have thought that Hot Legs, Maggie May singing Rod Stewart would have decided at some point to put on a tux, or a velvety smoking jacket and turn that bluesy voice to the standards? And succeed? What’s that you say? Nobody? I agree, but honestly, his voice lends itself to those sexy old songs, so when you think about it, it’s not much of a stretch. You want to know who IS a surprise? Everybody’s old Twisted friend Dee Snider, HE has blown me away. Mr. We’re Not Gonna Take it, has wiped off the makeup, lost the belly shirts, brushed his hair and written a Christmas musical, and it ROCKS!

Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale is previewing in Chicago. I had reason to be up there for a few days with the family, and we wanted to see some theatre. We are BIG fans of musicals, and the Million Dollar Quartet was playing, I kind of wanted to see it, but my husband had other ideas. He had been looking at what was playing and he told me he wanted to go see the Christmas Tale. Now I experienced my teen years during the 80’s, so I am no stranger, and you might say, I’m a pretty big fan of hair bands and heavy metal, but I will admit I had a moment of trepidation. I thought about it though, and remembered that I regularly drag the Mr. to the ballet, and we are going to see Cinderella in January, so I said ok. He excitedly got online and in about four minutes had purchased tickets for our family, which includes an eighteen year-old daughter and a thirteen year-old son.

I’m not gonna lie. I spent the afternoon certain we had just blown our money, but I was SOOOOO wrong. We got to the theatre, and were greeted with classic Christmas music, a set that looked like a backstage area, with a cozy, Christmas-y living room set up, complete with tree, in the corner. We were given little red or green flash lights when we entered, which my husband and I immediately recognized as a substitute for that rock concert staple, the lighter. Suddenly, Dee Snider’s voice boomed out of nowhere (kind of like the rock god that he is) telling us that we paid to see a ROCK & ROLL Christmas show, not some boring old stuffy show, and what the heck was with the boring, slow music, which then changed to some more appropriate rock Christmas music. Mr. Snider came out on stage in rock and roll leather (toned down a little, but right about where it should’ve been), took his seat in the leather chair in the cozy corner, and began his role as narrator.

The description I’m going to give you here is going to be frustratingly limited. If I tell too much, it will ruin the COMPLETELY unexpected surprise at the end. The gist of the story is as follows. We have a frustrated heavy metal band trying to make it. They started out ten or fifteen years too late, and have been trying to get their hair band to a level of success seemingly impossible for such a group today. They try everything they can think of, including some pretty shady dealings with a certain unsavory character, who apparently bestows good health, attractive gray streaks, and good skin to rockers who should be dead, but they continue to struggle. The lead singer, D.D., played by Adam Michaels, is one of the prettiest men since Bret Michaels in his heyday. He does a fantastic job in his pink spandex and beautifully applied make up. My daughter was speechless, because she’d never seen a pretty man before, and my thirteen year old son was speechless with horror because he’d never seen a pretty man before. The rest of the band (except the drummer, who was a very funny bright spot) physically remind me of rockers from the 80’s, but I’ll let you decide who you think they look like, because that’s half the fun.

I really can’t say more than that about the actual plot, because it would be shameful of me to ruin the ending for you. What I WILL tell you, is that Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale, is one of the best times I’ve ever had at the theatre. It was funny, it had a great message, there were some good-natured jabs at some other older rockers, and some current pop culture references that my kids got. There were old Twisted Sister songs, Christmas songs, and a few new ones, written just for the show. I will also tell you, that at the very end, when everybody including Dee comes out on stage together to rock the audience out of the theatre, the happy vibes are palpable. You know how you always hear about how performers feed off the energy of the audience? Well, Mr. Snider was so joyous, and excited, and seriously, just plain happy, that the happy vibes came off of him in almost visible waves, and everyone in that fairly small theatre could feel them. His face lit up like a little kid, and we all felt so energized and great and happy when we left, that I’m having a hard time putting the degree to which we felt wonderful into words. We saw the show two nights ago, and as we drove back to Cincinnati from Chicago today, my family was talking about how we all still felt so great because of it.
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Since the show is previewing in Chicago, getting it’s sea legs as it were, I’m not sure if it will end up in New York, but I really hope it does. The world needs more of this kind of entertainment. There was nothing negative, nothing nasty or mean; it proves that any kind of topic can be tackled without nudity, cursing, hateful actions, or fear. It really is a great show for the whole family. If Dee Snider sees this (and chances are he might, because I’m going to email him a link to it) hear me loud and clear; if the show goes to Broadway, don’t let them ruin it, and WRITE MORE PLAYS, MUSICALS, ETC. You’ve got a great thing going here. Use that giant brain that you obviously have to spread more of the kind of happiness you have created with this show. The world needs more joy. Good job sir. We like you, and we like your show. Merry Christmas 🙂

The show is playing through December at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago, Illinois. Go see it.