Numbers & SymbolsAwesome Moments
Artwork by: Vidushi Sharma

When I was asked by my choral teacher to perform in front of a director and producer for Carnegie Hall’s production of The Sound of Music, I didn’t fully grasp why I had been selected or what it would happen if I received a part.

My choral instructor asked thirty kids to audition for her, and narrowed it down herself. Twenty of us were called in on a Sunday, crammed into a space the size of a broom closet, asked to sing a prepared piece: the iconic Do-Re-Mi. Most of us had no idea how enormous this opportunity was- that we should have some self-confidence. Most were just uncomfortable and nervous to be performing in front of adults. The youngest of us was six, and the oldest seventeen. At ten, I was right in the middle.

I was a knock-kneed, skinny ten-year-old, tripping over my feet as I shuffled to the front of the room. My hands shook, so I clasped them behind my back. I tried to smile and look the director in the eye. I tried to “have fun with it”, a pointless phrase told to you by friends and family to coax you to invest emotion into the song. I was primarily a singer, so I think this part was the most strenuous for me, as I felt I should prove my worth.

When this ordeal was over, six or seven of us were taken for acting auditions. These were quick, as none of the children had many lines anyway. We were informed that the performance was meant to be more of a concert and less of a play. After that came the dancing auditions. As a mentioned before, I had a prepubescent awkward body that struggled to perform everyday tasks, such as walking down stairs and jumping rope.

Looking back, I don’t know how I thought I was a graceful dancer, but somehow I convinced myself that all the gangly and uncoordinated movements that occurred every day did not apply to my dancing skills. I shuffled and tripped my way through a ten-minute audition; I was sure I had the makings of a ballerina. At the end of this almost three-hour process, we were told to go home. Two weeks later, I got a phone call and received the role that I never thought I’d get: Brigitta Von Trapp.

As rehearsals began, I started to hum the music as I walked to school, ate my meals, and went to sleep. I began to see the songs and lines in my daily experiences: waking up was the lonely goatherd, going to sleep was edelweiss, and school was Do-Re-Mi. I started to identify with Brigitta in ways I hadn’t imagined. We both loved to read, were quite opinionated, and both occasionally meddled in the affairs of our parents (and in her case, governess). There were five other children with me. Leisel, the oldest, was played by Mary Michael Patterson, fresh off a role in Anything Goes.

"I started to hum the music as I walked to school, ate my meals, and went to sleep."

I developed a close relationship with the other children, especially in the weeks leading up to the performance. We met with the choreographer once a week, going through increasingly more difficult dance pieces. I wondered why I was always in the back row. We rehearsed our lines, and I realized that I would have to talk to a lot of adult characters, which sent me into an anxiety tailspin, which lasted until I actually met the actors and realized that they were incredibly nice, especially the woman playing Maria, Laura Osnes. She had a warm smile, a gentle, sweet demeanor. She encouraged us during scenes. To top it off she had a beautiful voice, better than anyone I had ever heard. To me, she was a goddess; the other children and I worshiped her.

During the first rehearsal in Carnegie Hall, I closed my eyes and thought I was dreaming. The red and gold fixtures, the velvet seats, the vaulted ceilings made me feel like I was dreaming. We were given seats onstage, to stare out into the cavernous hall and practice. We ran our lines with the director, and he gave us notes. Then came the dance rehearsal, where I was moved further to the back of the group dance. After an almost six-hour day, we began to run the musical numbers. When we sang, the space reverberated. I gazed into the vast space, watching the sea of seats go on and on. They all watched and encouraged me. I wasn’t focusing on anything, just floating through an endless reverie.

Performing onstage is finding a balance between performer and audience. As the actor, you must connect with the audience to help them feel the emotion of the story by using yourself as a vehicle for the character. In that single performance in Carnegie Hall, I shored up every memory about performing and conveying emotion.

Every musical I’d watched, every book I’d read, every time I’d cried or laughed or felt remorse, I stitched these emotions into a tapestry of Brigitta Von Trapp. I remember the shine of the light as I marched onstage, the way the first notes rang in the hall, the way my lone voice sounded when I tripped during the dance number, but most of all, I remember the standing ovation that echoed through the chamber; the joy I felt from the payoff of working so hard.

In the cab ride from the after-party, I had a sense of melancholy and nostalgia that I had never felt before. In a moment like this I should have been rejoicing, but since the show only ran for one night, I would never experience it again. In that moment, my ten-year-old self concluded that some things in life are not meant to be held onto. Moments should be experienced and remembered, even celebrated, but not wallowed in.

My awesome moment may have been singing in front of the director in the audition, it may have been seeing Carnegie Hall for the first time, it may have been when I realized that I had made a lasting bond with the cast members, it may have been singing in the performance. But, really, my awesome moment was sitting in that cab when it was all over, registering that through hard work comes satisfaction and great experiences.

For the past three years I’ve drawn upon this work ethic almost every day. It has lead me to every one of my achievements, to every single time I’ve felt fulfilled. My moment will follow me through my life, and that’s what makes it truly awesome.

Grace Luckett, age 13, will be in 8th grade at Packer Collegiate. Grace is an avid reader, skier, baker, and singer.

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