Every year, without fail, I was a part of my high school's musical. I'll never say that I was good at anything I did onstage, but I can say for certain that I learned more lessons than I could ever write about (or that anyone in their right mind would read!) Here is a list of the top lessons I have learned from shows I had the honor of being in.
1. Being different is a beautiful thing.
What better show to teach this lesson than "Hairspray", the show that teaches the audience that you don't have to look a certain way to fit in. This was my freshman year show. I was new to high school, just trying to fit in and go with the flow of the fast-paced halls. By the time we were done performing "Hairspray", I had learned that not only is it normal to not fit in, but it is also actually a really beautiful thing to stray from the standards of "normal".
2. Love is out there where you least expect it.
A Bob Fosse classic, "Sweet Charity," showed me this valuable lesson. In the show, Charity (who is a dance-partner-for-hire at a seedy dance hall) gets dumped out of the blue by her no-good boyfriend. She spends the rest of the show searching for the love she has always wanted in life. She meets Oscar, a shy man who is hardly her "type" at all. By the end of the show, they are married, despite her career.
3. No dream is too big to achieve.
Everyone knows the show "Legally Blonde". Elle Woods, a popular sorority girl who has everything in life handed to her, decides to go to Harvard to follow the man who just broke her heart. There, she finds out that she is more than a pretty sorority girl who knows how to have a good time. With a little hard work and a lot of energy drinks, she ends up graduating at the top of her class.
4. Strong women can (and will) make a change in the world.
The show "9 to 5" was composed by none other than Dolly Parton, and one of the leading ladies is even written to closely resemble her. Three women, all from different backgrounds, work in the same office under a degrading boss. Together, they build a plan to get rid of their boss and make all of the changes they deem necessary for a successful working environment. Throughout the show, they each grow as individuals, learning to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.
5. Follow your dreams, no matter where they take you.
"All Shook Up" is a musical that was inspired by Elvis Presley. The show takes place in the '50s where one girl's dream and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger help a small town to discover the magic of romance and the power of rock & roll. Natalie, the lead role, learns that she doesn't need a man to make her happy. At the close of the show, she decides to hit the open road and follow her dreams.
6. There is no such thing as "impossible".
Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" is a beautifully classic show that gives more life to the characters everyone has grown up loving. Everyone knows Cinderella's story; from rags to riches, she falls in love with Prince Charming and they live happily ever after.
7. Embrace the things about you that make you unique.
Sure, "Shrek: The Musical" sounds either hilarious or ridiculous depending on who you ask, but I learned so many valuable things during this show. This was my senior year show, my last time being on my high school's stage. This show holds so many memories and emotions for me. "Freak Flag" is an upbeat song in the show that tells the audience to never be ashamed of who they are. Always embrace every weird quirk you have because that is what makes you so special in this world. There will never be a time that I don't cry listening to this song or watching this show if we're being honest here.
8. Don't limit yourself to what is expected of you.
Again, everyone knows the millennial classic, "High School Musical". This was the last show I ever performed in, so it holds a special place in my heart. Not only did I get to spend my last summer before college doing what I love, but I got to do it with a show that I grew up watching!
9. Shimmy to the mic.
Although this last lesson isn't from a show I've done, it is an infamous saying from my high school director. She constantly told us that no matter what happens on that stage, good or bad, always remember to keep a smile on your face and "shimmy to the mic", which meant to stay cool and confident and never let the audience know if you made a mistake. She is saved in my phone as Christine Dougherty, Grade 12 because whenever we would be getting ready for auditions (in which you said your name and grade before starting), she would always introduce herself that way.