I was four years old when the tour of Peter Pan came through Toronto. I sat in one of those theatre booster seats in my fanciest dress and travelled from the Darling home to Neverland, and back again.
When the lights came back up, I turned to my mom and asked, “Is it over already?” She laughed, afraid two hours was too long for a fidgety little girl. Apparently she was wrong.
That was just the start of my musical theatre mania. I listened to Broadway cast recordings on repeat, I convinced my parents to take me to any musical theatre production within driving distance. I even took musical theatre lessons, where I always played characters like “nun #2” or “munchkin.”
Around this time, my fourth grade teacher had us browse through career books to help us figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up. Each page was dedicated to a career: Teacher, Lawyer, Firefighter, Broadway Actor.
Wait. Broadway Actor? This was a career? In all my obsessing, it never occurred to me that these actors were performing as their job.
On some level, I knew it would never be my job—I only needed to be cast as “orphan #3” so many times to know I was better in the audience than on the stage. But my world was suddenly opened up to creative arts as a career. People had jobs like “actor”, “painter” and “writer.” It wasn’t just a hobby.
Yet over time, this evolved into thinking that creative arts are only legitimate if they are your career, if it’s what sustains you. Actors were only real actors if they were on a Broadway stage. Writers were only real writers if they were on The New York Times Best Sellers list. For those of us who lean to the creative side, that’s the dream.