April 19, 2013

When you look up the word family in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first definition you find is: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head. Only after that do explanations regarding common ancestry show up. As a freelance artist, I have chosen a lifestyle where my group of individuals, roofs and heads are constantly changing. Since working in this profession already ensures that I have at least one thing in common with others, it is always a joy to discover other things that make artists tick, and it is through exploring those fancies that you grow from being a cast into being a family. Because I have been graced with such an amazing cast recently, I want to introduce three special people to you. I'm not going to outline their resumes or cut and paste their bios. Please go to their websites to find out what outstanding professionals they are. What I want to share is what incredible individuals they are and how my world is a better place because I met them.

To start with, meet Christine Cornell. As is generally the case with regional theatre, we had shared housing down here in Naples. She and I were housemates and shared a car. This could have been dicey, but fortunately, it was an ideal situation. We bonded over a constant desire for coffee, a past of competitive tap dancing, a love of Skyping with our significant others and, most importantly, a healthy obsession with our pedometers. We have had late night margaritas, beach days, shopping trips, laughter, tears and seen silly movies together. It was a pretty full introductory five weeks and seems to be only the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Glenn Seven Allen and I have been in and out of each other’s lives for the last few years now.  As both of us are zig-zagging our ways through crossover careers, we keep running into each other.  Glenn is a font of knowledge, both pertinent and random, relating facts such as that his grandfather was once the mayor of Kalamazoo followed by a detailed account of how tilapia conduct their mating rituals. Anything he doesn’t know, he immediately researches and comes back triumphant with more information than you knew you needed.  He was the cast grill master and also makes incredible homemade margaritas and bloody marys.  But mostly during this production, we bonded over our Yankees/Red Sox rivalry.  

Finally, our own La Divina, Marina Re. Rather than taking on the role of a diva, she was gracious and loving and wanted to learn as much about opera as anyone would teach her. She is an incredibly hard worker, a magnificent actress and one of the strongest human beings I have ever met. We passed many an evening listening to crazy tales about her eleven siblings and their family band as well as some unbelievable stories from her decades in the theatre; a common love for white wine and chocolate didn't hurt those occasions. For me, the opportunity to engage in a scene with someone so intense and to engage in life with someone so passionate has been a master class in itself.

To quote Marina on our opening night: "One tenor, two sopranos and someone who can't sing a note. But, oh! What a great quartet we make." You don't get to pick to whom you are born, but if you've chosen to have a career as a performer, you are part of a family. It might be a loud, insane, unconventional, ever growing, ever changing family with some people you love and some you loathe, but it's your family nonetheless. And even though sometimes you feel like you can't live with 'em, you also know that you could never live without 'em.

© Leah Edwards 2018