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Sitting in the throne on a platform, I boomed, “You swam the moat?” across the stage littered with actors. Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced over at the audience to see their reactions to my demeaning character. Scattered emotions ran through the auditorium: proud smiles from friends and family, wide eyes and open mouths from fellow students, and surprised and shocked faces from the little children. After playing several small parts in community theatre, this was the moment I had been waiting for: it was my time to shine on stage in front of my school.
The aforementioned line was from the musical Once Upon A Mattress (a twisted version of The Princess and the Pea) where I played Queen Aggravain, an obnoxiously loud, malicious, and protective woman. My co-star, Matthew Stephens, a nationally recognized thespian, was the one who coached me during auditions to repeat that line with different styles within the line itself and as well as in my voice. Sure enough, when I announced those lines, the audition judges were smitten with me. The following week, the cast list was posted, and as I looked for my name, I knew my time had come. I had snagged a main part.
As an actress, this was a new experience for me. I had never played a lead before, or even a role with a name. I had always been a chorus member. Which, don’t get me wrong, still is an important part of the play, but I was waiting for the moment where I actually spoke on stage. I should have known to be careful what I wished for. I ended up having one solo to sing, one dance to learn, and two-hundred and sixty-eight lines to memorize. It was worth it and I loved every single minute of it. With the help of my talented director, Dawn Bastin, and the rest of the cast, I was able to take on the challenge of transforming myself from a funny, friendly girl into a cold-hearted yet misunderstood queen.
Struggling with the demands of a lead role caused me, at times to doubt myself. It sometimes felt people expected too much of me, sometimes too little. Not only did I have to impress my audience, but also the directors, judges, fellow actors, and myself. I wasn’t sure if I would be any good. Everytime I practiced my lines, I had a hard time being mean enough, wicked enough, regal enough. But if that was my challenge, I was ready to accept it, fight my inner sweetness, and take on an icy exterior. I was determined to be the best Queen Aggravain I could be.
When the performances were over, I received positive feedback from those who came to see the show. Teachers who barely knew me congratulated me; children were scared to come up to me thinking I was like my character; friends complimented me with flowers and hugs. After having doubts, I am glad I had the opportunity to take on such a major role and go so far with it. I was blessed and fortunate enough to gain experience with such a dynamic character and such a talented cast. I look forward to a time when I can meet and become another character like Aggravain.
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