Student blog: THE Costume
Yes, it’s me in these photos. Yeah even that one. I’m not writing this just to laugh at myself but to recognize the importance of wearing THE costume. My definition of “THE” costume is a piece that speaks without speaking, there is something unexpected and interesting about it and maybe even a little weird. That’s not a bad thing, there’s one in almost every show. The whole in Shrek, Madame De La Grande Bouche of The beauty and the Beast, or even Green Goblin from Spider-Man: turn off the darkness, the list goes on. I was a sophomore in high school auditioning for our production of Mary poppins. I expected to be cast as a “Kite flyer” or “Super-Cal dancer” … and I was.
I was also given the role of Valentine (the doll). In this scene, Jane and Michael Banks’ toys come to life and tell their play. “Treat the toys well and maybe they’ll treat you the same while playing the game.” You get the picture; dolls, bears, toy soldiers. I was embarrassed. No, I was mortified. I stayed outside and not the way I wanted. I didn’t look cute; I couldn’t make myself look cute no matter how hard I tried. But I realized that was not the point. I was meant to be a scary doll with murderous hips that come to life in revenge for the kids who played with me so hard. I wasn’t supposed to look flawless; I had stuffing coming out of me. I did some research, watched trailers with the original Broadway cast, and thought to myself that if Tyler Maynard could do it and all of Valentine’s Day before him could do it, so could I. I was able to cope with the idea of wearing something a little less glamorous. Tyler brought power, intention, and high stakes to this character, which was inspiring.
I was so taken with wearing the costume that I didn’t even think about giving Valentine the performance she deserved. There were of course gasps and whispers and the occasional “Mom what is this?” as I stepped out of my tiny wooden dollhouse. But honestly, it was pretty cool and I felt embarrassed. I stepped out of my comfort zone and scared my brother. I thought it was going to be a horrible experience but it was a growing experience. I guarantee you there will be a time when I wear THE costume again. A few months ago, I was cast in a virtual musical where my character wears a clown costume. It was absolutely not a sweat and I did not even flinch. I kissed him because the theater is beyond fabulous. It’s about bringing those quirks to life and sharing them as honestly as possible with the world. Their stories matter too. People ask me if I would have liked to be chosen as a different character and my answer is always no. I wouldn’t trade Valentine for the world because of what he taught me. Although I never thought I would really say that, thank you Valentine. If you ever find yourself wearing THE costume, remember it’s so much more. He’s a character with a soul, a past, a story and it’s up to you to tell it.