Sunday, May 11, 2014

Let Anything At All Happen Just Beyond the Sunrise

Although I promised myself a few weeks ago that I would move out of In the Heights, my school's recent High School Musical Theatre Awards (TAMY) nominations–nine total!–have refueled my love and longing for its familiar streets. I long for the bodega and Daniella's salon. I long for the sweet Piragua. The other day my friend Ella sang "Breathe"–one of Nina's solos–in her senior recital, and as I heard the introductory chords, I couldn't help getting choked up. I long to be back onstage as Nina.

The line dividing myself and Nina is thin. I understand the self-imposed pressure to succeed, to make people proud. The feeling that I never do enough. I understand the hesitation, the fear of the unknown. As I watch the DVD and listen to the music, I feel almost like I'm watching my own life. As I watch my character fall in love with the character Benny, I feel as if I'm watching myself fall in love.

I listen to our duets and get the same warm feeling I get when listening to a Taylor Swift song about a boy I like. I watch us onstage and I can't help wishing that the love was real. Because somehow, in Nina's love for Benny, she is able to forget about the future, and leave whatever happens "beyond the sunrise" to God's will.

And then I remember that Eric–the actor who played Benny–and I were just acting. It was Nina and Benny who were in love. Not me and Eric. And I have to pull myself out of this fictional world to actually live my life. But it's difficult. It's like breaking off a relationship––some days I'm fine, and others, I have to listen to songs on repeat.

At some point, I should be able to live like I do onstage, in my real life. And I don't mean specific plot points–I don't need to drop out of college, and backtracking to my role as Rizzo, I certainly don't need a pregnancy scare. I mean my approach to life. Onstage, I live in the moment. I feel the energy. And I act accordingly. My 28-performances of Les Misérables last summer taught me that no show is ever going to be the same. I have to just let myself feel what's going on around me. That is what makes the characters onstage, and the events in the story, believable. That is what keeps them fresh every time.

As much as I sometimes wish it were, life isn't scripted. I have to let whatever happens beyond the sunrise, happen, and not worry so much about the future. And somewhere along the way, I'll hopefully find my Benny.

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