I set out to do something different and challenging. Judging from many of the surprising comments I received after each performance and how I felt about myself after each performance was exhilarating! Exhausting, yet exhilarating. Miracles is such a departure from the scene-stealing, character roles audiences have come to admire(?) about me. I could have done OKLAHOMA!. Seussical would have been pure fun. But nothing could have prepared me for the emotional roller coaster of my first three-person cast, lead actor role. It was so worth it in every way imaginable. I really think that the greatest part about it was the shock I gave so many audience members.
The synopsis of the story focuses on the teenage, institutionalized, autistic girl named Eve. Her teacher, Kate, wants to believe that Eve is a savant and “uses” the technique of facilitated communication in order to “convince” Tom that his daughter is in fact writing a book of poetry, is going to be on national TV, and will be an inspiration to millions. However, is there more to this than meets the eye?
Of course I’m biased, but I thought Tom was the most demanding character of the three. A middle aged hippie lawyer who lost his wife to cancer while attempting to raise his autistic daughter… in and out of a thousand specialists who questioned his ability to love and care for his daughter even feeling that he is being blamed personally for her condition. He turns his back on God and does not visit his daughter for two years until he receives a call from the school telling him that there had in fact been a “Miracle.” A really lost soul….a shell of a man… an emotional wreck.
Gone was the buzz that accompanies the comedic scene-stealing character roles. But there were bits of humor sprinkled here and there. (“As the hair on your head recedes, the hairs in your nose start growing faster”). Battles with the teacher. Destruction of school equipment… boy did THAT feel good every night… thank goodness for Duct tape 😉 I did take a bit of artistic license by introducing a favorite bit of my childhood into the play.
Once again, I have NO IDEA who said that comedy was hard! One day, I would like to be cast in another BIG dramatic role. But for now… I need a good, light, fluffy musical or just a fun comedy full of character roles.
But, as I said this afternoon as I called the real star of the show to the stage at curtain call, Beth found this treasure and put it together. In January at the annual banquet for the Village Players, I knew I wanted to at least audition for the role. Hopefully, her passion for the piece showed through our performances which were not exactly sell-outs, but for a show like this… the message and the audience reaction to the message needs to come first. Another rewarding aspect… each audience had at least one person who had been touched by autism.