Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mini Mice

This weekend, in the middle of Tech Week of Nevada Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker at Paris Las Vegas, I managed to find a few minutes in my schedule to sit in the audience during dress rehearsal and watch a bit of the Battle Scene in the first act.

Onstage, Clara fell asleep after parents’ Christmas party and the stage went dark, causing creepy shadows to fall around her. The music became sinister, and Drosselmeyer swirled his cape as Clara’s dream began. Then from a corner of the stage, a tiny mouse – a five-year-old child in a fluffy mouse costume – scampered across the stage, ran around Drosselmeyer and his cape, and then exited to the opposite side. And I began to cry.

Okay, I didn’t sob or anything, but the tears sure welled up.

I’ve always been a crybaby when it comes to live theatre or any type of live event that brings people together. When Jim Nabors sings Back Home Again in Indiana at the start of the Indy 500, I cry. When amid thousands of stranger in the stands of a baseball game who all stand together silently and respectfully for the National Anthem, I cry. And the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics? Forget it…I am a mess the whole time.

And sitting in the audience of a live performance always gets me (if it’s a good show, of course). There is a special magic in the air, when the composer’s creativity, the orchestra’s mastery, the performers’ enthusiasm, and the audience’s awe combine to give us…well, the best of humanity. In this age of automated phones, texting, TV, and mindless video games, we need more chances to come together and celebrate humankind’s creativity.

I sat in the audience this weekend, my eyes filled with tears, as the stage filled with tiny mice who scurried in well-rehearsed circles and fell to the ground and shook their feet in the air in fear of Drosselmeyer. These were the kids who had looked at me wide-eyed from their makeup-covered faces as they waited patiently in a line for their entrance. I adjusted their mouse ears and helped them find their lost ballet slippers. I marveled at their parents who volunteered hours of time to coordinate and corral a cast of 100 kids during the lengthy rehearsal process. This was the kids’ first live performance, and they were on the same Las Vegas stage where countless celebrities had entertained thousands.

I looked over at the Director who was giving notes over the microphone and hoped he wouldn’t look over at me. The Artistic Director of NBT also sat nearby, and I prayed he wouldn’t come talk to me and see my tears. But I couldn’t help my emotion – not only was it these kids’ first experience in the theatre, but it was also the show that my Mom took me to every Christmas – the music alone can bring me to tears because it encompasses all the memories and magic of Christmas.

I may be a slightly jaded ex-professional singer/dancer, but the magic of theatre still gets me. And I’m so glad that these kids are lucky enough to experience it.

I wish you all some tears of joy during this holiday.
Merry Christmas.

p.s. I watched the whole production on Sunday night and cried every time a new group of kids entered the stage. Boy, I’m a mess.


  1. So sweet, Shannon. Embrace the tears as they are physical indicators of the depth of your heart and soul. Merry Christmas, honey.

  2. Happy belated birthday! I've been thinking of you. It's great to hear you working on Nutcracker, a show that always brings you to mind. I'll never forget being onstage with you and having the CD skip or jump or whatever it did to leave us without music for the party scene. Ah, the joy of theatre. I hope you had an orchestra (or a better recording). And yes, I'm a crier too. I'm sure some of these little mice will remember in thirty years and have a good cry too. Happy holidays, Kevin.