Yes, I've Got "The Bug"
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Yes, I've Got "The Bug"

"The bug," or a love of being on stage, was always made to sound like it was something vague and scary, and never failed to accompany a side eye or eyebrow raise.

Yes, I've Got "The Bug"
Tori Vacca

“Oh man, she’s got the bug,” people would say as they looked with worried eyes back and forth between my dad and myself. “The bug”. Something I had heard about since I first hit the stage, always with this negative connotation of something scary and vague. Yes, I have the passion to be on stage, whenever I can get there. Let me tell you how that happened exactly.

My very first encounter with Broadway happened 10 years ago, when I was just 9 years old, and it was the most magical day I can remember. In that summer of 2007, my family decided not to take a family vacation, but instead spend our time making shorter day trips to wherever my sister and I wanted.

All I had been listening to for months on end was the cast recording of the hit Broadway musical, Wicked. It’s funny now that I look back on it because I had no prior experience with Broadway or really stage acting of any kind. I had only seen a few community shows with my family, but I was infatuated with the sound of show tunes on the Wicked cast album and could eventually sing every character’s part forwards and backwards within a week. It was all I listened to. I hadn’t a clue what the show was about, but I was intrigued enough to ask that my day trip be a trip to NYC to see it for myself.

Like I said, I had never been to Broadway before, let alone in New York City for an extended period of time, so this was a tall order for nine- year old Tori to be asking. My dreams were dashed when I was told the show was “sold out for the entire summer” and I would have to choose something else; still, I asked every day. I’m nothing if not persistent, even then.

It was the dog days of summer and school was starting promptly beginning in a few weeks time, so I had pretty much accepted the fact that a trip to NYC was not in my foreseeable future— that was, until my dad told me to get dressed up in my best clothes and wait for him in the driveway.

I was never one to turn down an opportunity to dress up (and still am this way), so I put on my favorite floral skirt and matching blouse, put on my best jewelry, buckled my “high” heels, and was on my way outside. I was more than confused when I went outside to see absolutely nothing. No cars on the street, none in the driveway, no one outside. A little annoyed that I got so done up, I was ready to go inside when my family came out to meet me and I heard a car horn honk behind me. A black limo was pulling into my driveway. I turned to my dad in a state of shock as he smiled and said, “Get in.”

As I was distracted by the mesmerizing limo I was in (for the very first time, might I add), I was confused as to where it was taking me—and my dad wasn’t giving anything up. I saw traffic get heavier and saw signs for New Jersey, but what exciting thing was there in New Jersey? (Honestly, even if this happened to me today, I would be just as confused because my sense of direction is actually nonexistent, but this is beside the point.)

We pulled into Wicked on Broadway and I started crying (naturally). I was the obnoxious child that sang through the entire show, but I was cute enough to get away with it. It was the most magical experience I’ve ever had.

So yes, after that, I realized I had “the bug,” and its all thanks to my dad. After all of that, who wouldn’t be so completely entranced?

This opened so many doors for me. This love and passion for the theater pushed me out into the world in the best way. As if I wasn’t extroverted enough, I had this drive to be on stage, a desire to entertain an audience and make people feel good. I made some of my very best friends in the drama club and through various productions. There is something about being in a cast that is truly like a second family and the memories I’ve made both on and off stage I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Not only are the relationships great, but performing gave me an outlet to fulfill parts of myself that felt left empty, allowing me to draw on raw emotion and really feel every role. Every show has let me experience a new piece of myself and learn something new about life in the most beautiful way. Let me tell you, that is truly a gift in itself.

I’m sure when I told my dad this is what I wanted to do with my life, that is, be on stage, a path that is virtually a crapshoot, he panicked and wished I would just be a doctor to take care of him in his old age. Instead, he remained calm and built me up so that I could achieve anything.

There was no worse feeling than telling people what I was going to college for and having them tell me, “But you’re so smart!’ Being someone who is their best self on stage doesn’t make me any less smart.

Especially today, art is important. Theater is transcendent. It gives me the opportunity to be a light for those that may need it. Rather than shooting kids down, asking them what they’re really going to do with their life, or implying that they’re “too smart” for wanting to pursue this, we need to be encouraging them, encouraging them to pursue their truth. I’m lucky enough to have this unending support and encouragement from my family and friends and its honestly made me a better person and performer. I know that’s not always the case, so I really am blessed.

So to theater kids that are told they have “the bug,” which is sprinkled with a negative connotation and most often times, followed by the infamous side glance that is anything but subtle, don't let anyone squash it. The world needs your art. The world needs your truth, so keep telling your story.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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