A Little Actress


“Fiddler on the Roof” was my first taste of being involved in theater. There were no try-outs at our boarding school. We were assigned a part based on how tall we were and whether we looked like the particular character. I was assigned an insignificant role as the little old lady in the cemetery scene, but I trembled and looked toothless and spoke in my very best old lady voice. The first rehearsal left the two directors laughing hysterically on the floor, and ever after, I was given bigger parts.

The make-up for the little old lady was caked quite thick, with wrinkles aging my whole face. My powdered wig made my whole head sweat. Before I went on stage, butterflies were fluttering through my stomach. I had never been on stage before. I could see lots of people in the dark audience. When the hot lights blazed on me, a surge of energy came through me, and I was able to give a good performance.

I was also a part of the band that played the songs for “Fiddler on the Roof.” I played the cymbals, and every time I crashed them, my hair would fly backwards. That was a fun instrument to play. Luckily for my parents, the two years I played cymbals, I was in boarding school, so they never had to hear me practice. (I also played the triangle and other sound effects.)

The following year, the boarding school put on the play “Heidi.” I was cast as the crippled friend of Heidi, the co-star. I remember in one of the rehearsals, one of the guys had to carry me from my wheelchair to the top of the mountain. I was so thin and wispy at the time, so this was no problem for the guy. It felt odd to be carried by a boy who was only one year older than I was. But it didn’t bother me much. What surprised and shocked me was that the boy I had a crush on (more like puppy love) was secretly instructed to give me a hug at the end of the scene where I walked on wobbly legs. When he suddenly hugged me, I turned beat red. Everyone saw. Everyone knew that I liked him, and in utter mortification, I ran away. Even the teachers were laughing. They yelled for me to come back, and I screamed, “No!” from back stage. They must have dismissed the rehearsal early that day, because there was no way I would have gone back in there!

Performing in “Heidi” was great fun, since I was in a lot of scenes. I was also a part of the choir which sang the songs that went with the play. The make-up wasn’t as hot, since I wore less make-up and no wig. At the end of the play, the audience applauded, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

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