November 04, 2007

Drama Queen

Today were tryouts for the children's Christmas play at our church. Charis had her heart set on playing Mary, while Tobin's goal was to land the non-speaking role of Darth Vader. (The play was written by the drama coordinator at our church, and it's quite humorous!) So, at 1 p.m., after I had finished serving in the pre-school area, we joined the throngs of other parents and children wanting to participate in the first children's Christmas play.

Non-speaking roles were determined first. Tobin lined up with about 8 other guys (most of whom were much taller!) to demonstrate his Darth Vader acting skills. He was supposed to jump out on stage, brandishing his light saber, only to be told, "No, sorry, Darth Vader isn't in this show," then slump dejectedly and shuffle off the stage. I have to admit that Tobin won the Darth Vader jumping out part hands-down; however, he was told he didn't look "sad enough" as he left the stage. Though he probably could have been a sheep or goat, or even part of the angel chorus, Tobin decided that it was either Darth or nothing, and so he was done for the day. (Whew! Thank goodness! I'm off the hook for making an animal costume!!)

Finally it was time for speaking roles. Children went up in groups of five to read the same scene. I finally pulled Charis aside and told her she needed to just stand up and volunteer; the scene involved 3 shepherds, an angel, and a narrator. She was waiting for Rory to call for Mary, but really he just wanted to hear everyone read. So she went on stage and read Shepherd #3's part, which, unfortunately, was only 2 short lines. She was also partnered with kids WAY bigger than she was. When she sat down, she said in a sad voice, "I don't think he's going to pick me, because I didn't get to read very much."

I told her that maybe she could ask Mr. J if she could try reading the narrator part so that he could hear her more, as long as everyone else had had a chance to try. Sure enough, for the final grouping, there were only 3-4 kids who hadn't yet read. Charis bravely marched up to Rory and asked very politely if she could read the narrator part, because she didn't get to say very much. I think she impressed him by even asking; later on one of the preschool leaders called to tell me that Rory had said Charis had won a special spot in his heart when she asked if she could have another chance on the stage! Charis read the part beautifully, with great expression, and only needing help with the word "pre-historic."

After this initial reading, the kids got in groups based on what part(s) they wanted. Joseph and Mary were the roles to be determined first. Charis joined about 7-8 other Mary wanna-bes, and they all took turns speaking the lines. I have to say, she did a great job. Really, all of the Marys did a good job. Some of them had been terrible readers, but when they were speaking the lines instead of reading, they did much better. Finally it came down to one question: which girl matched Joseph in size?! As there were only 2 Joseph candidates, he was picked first. Since Joseph ended up being about twice as tall as Charis, Rory told her very gently that though she was a good little actress, she was just too little to be Mary. She kept her composure quite well.

I called her over to me, thinking to suggest that she join the angel group and try again. She did shed some tears when she came over to me, but she was game to keep trying. So next the angels were up, about 9 or 10 of them (a bit larger group, as all the Mary-rejects merged with the few original angels). Once again, Rory taught the girls the lines, and they all said them several times. The next thing I knew, Charis and four other girls were on the stage, as Rory narrowed down the choices. The girls said the lines again, and I could tell Rory was having a very hard time selecting only two of them! (I'm glad I didn't have his job!) Finally he walked up to Charis and said, "Charis, you are just so darn cute that you simply MUST have a role in this play! You've won the part of an angel nearly on cuteness alone!" The other gal who was chosen was a natural--I wasn't surprised at all that she was picked.

So, Charis is Angel #2 in our little holiday production! To say she is excited is a complete understatement! I'm excited for her. I know the fact that she is so tiny, petite, and "darn cute" did help her land this role, but she also did have great expression every time she got to say a line. We just need to really work on having her project--her voice is so tiny! But she is enthusiastic, and I know we can help her do it.

Her lines are actually fairly minimal, so I'm sure she'll have them memorized in no time. Then she'll be able to focus on projecting her voice, having just the right expression and emphasis, and so on. The performances will be December 15 and 16 for all the elementary classes--so this won't be on the main stage at church. Nevertheless, it's a pretty big deal for our family, and we're all very proud of Charis!


The Litwillers said...

Good job, Charis!

It's so hard to be a director and disappoint the ones that aren't chose or who don't get the role they wanted. It was tough enough with high schoolers...I can't imagine breaking the hearts of grade schoolers!!

And there are Christmas plays out there for Marys of all shapes and sizes, so tell Charis that she may still get her chance another year!!

Oh, as a director, I chose Matthew (age 4 mos.) to play Baby Jesus one year. He was fussing so hard during both performances that we had to use a doll instead. This is why W.C. Fields said, "Never work with animals or children."

Beverly said...

Great quote!

Yes, it's tough for those who aren't chosen. A friend of mine has a daughter who didn't get any role at all, and it doesn't seem fair--she didn't read any worse than any of the ones that were chosen, but it kind of came down to eeny, meeny, miny, moe, and the luck of the draw was not in her favor. I feel almost guilty, especially since Charis's cuteness factor was considerable in earning her the part. (Though I still maintain that she could hold her own on dramatic merits!)