Monday, February 20, 2012

8 Things I Learned from Doing Community Theater


This weekend was the final weekend of performances for my community theater group's production of the musical GUYS & DOLLS. My hubby had a major supporting role. And though I came to the production late (deadlines kept me from auditioning last November), I was asked to come in to take over a small part and to work backstage after some people had to bow out of the production for medical or job reasons. The music director is a good friend, it gave me some quality time to spend with my hubby at rehearsals.

One of the tenets I try to live by is to learn something new every day (it's a great way to generate story ideas! plus, it keeps the brain cells sharp and rejuvenates the creative energy). So I thought I'd share with you some of the things I've learned by doing theater since I was 5.

1. Theater is a wonderful creative outlet for me. It uses a different kind of creativity than writing does, and the brain, spirit and body need that kind of refresher, I think. Some of my friends knit or quilt--I do theater.

2. I've made some wonderful friends doing theater. Truly, when you spend all that rehearsal and performance time together--when you help each other with quick costume changes backstage or rely on someone to turn on the lights or move your set or have their lines down so you can play off them, it requires trust. Some of our dearest friends have come from our theater family.

3. Romance. The first date I had with my hubby was to view Halley's Comet at the MIZZOU observatory. But we really got to know each other/spend time together/decide we liked each other by doing a couple of shows together.

4. It gives the shy girl inside me a chance to break out of her shell and shine. Julie Miller is a nervous wreck speaking in front of a big group of people. But Annie Sullivan or Maria von Trapp or any number of other characters love to be onstage.

5. Continuing to be involved with community theater helps me keep the skills I learned in college fresh. I was in charge of makeup on GUYS & DOLLS. Loved aging a couple of characters and turning one young woman into a man for the stage. (I said they'd lost some of their original cast and crew, remember?)

6. Doing this show was good therapy for my hubby. He lost 2 brothers last year, and has been dealing with a lot of family responsibilities. Portraying a singing gangster, hanging out with his friends and making new ones, getting the chance to see me away from my computer, were all a much-needed respite and healing process for him.

7. I got story ideas! Suddenly, the previously one-dimensional hero in the proposal I'm currently writing is taking on some of the bad boy hero qualities of the leading men in GUYS & DOLLS. He may not break into song--but he's developing a sarcastic sense of humor. And his defining heroic quality is--like those gangsters in the play--that he's true to his word, no matter what it costs him. My heroine can rely on him (though she doesn't believe that yet ;)

8. It's just plain fun. It wouldn't be much of a hobby if I spent all that time being miserable or stressed. So I got a few bruises--okay, so I got a LOT of bruises moving church pews on and off the stage--but the backstage crew had a blast. We even performed our own rendition of "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" behind the scenes each time to actors did the big number. And like I said before, the people involved with the production are like family. And those friendships are priceless.


So, what's your hobby? What do you do to escape the stresses of everyday life or to reconnect with friends and family? What hobby rejuvenates you?

I'll give away a copy of one of my backlist titles to a lucky someone who posts a question or comment today. And for you ebook readers out there, be sure to check out Amazon.com on Thursday/Friday--I'm celebrating my birthday weekend by giving away free ebook copies of IMMORTAL HEART.

28 comments:

  1. Wow. Sorry about the labels (if anyone checks those!). Must be like texting--it filled in words for me and I didn't check them carefully enough. Truly, I'm not blogging about coloring books. And 'craativity'looks like a name from a science fiction book.

    I guess there's a reason why the eye doctor ways I should wear my computer glasses when I type. ;)

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  2. Hey, Julie. Glad to hear you had such a great time with Guys & Dolls. It's one of my favs! Wish I could have made it. My horses are my creative/fun outlet. Lot's of work involved there, but I love it. And it's such a thrill to see my kids enjoy the horses, too, and ride so well. I'm trying something new this week by starting a Kickboxing class! Not only am I hoping it will help me get into better shape and drop a few pounds, but I'm anxious to try something I've never done before!

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    1. Hey, Sherry--thanks for stopping by. Yes, it was one of the more "fun" productions I've worked on. Those are the best hobbies, I think, that you can teach your children and share with your family--it develops some really close bonds and provides easy communication opportunities, I think. And kick-boxing? Cool!

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  3. Hi Julie,

    LOL about the coloring books. Listening to music and reading a good book calm and relam me the most. Also, hugging my husband and daughter. Thanks for the heads up on your free book. I got a Kindle for Christmas and my new obsession is "buying" free books for it.

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    1. Music has been a wonderful hobby for my family, too--singing, playing instruments, attending concerts, listening to a variety of genres. I love the hugging as a hobby--it's one of my favorite things to do, too!

      Hope you'll enjoy IMMORTAL HEART. It's romantic suspense, like my Intrigues, but definitely a bigger book, and, with a paranormal twist. I'll be anxious to hear what you think.

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  4. Reading, taking a walk and sewing is what I do to calm me down from the stresses of life. There is nothing like a good book to help you escape the world as it is.

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    1. Walking the dog is a big refresher for me, Quilt Lady. The fresh air and exercise are good for both of us! I used to do a lot of sewing, too. But I try to save my hands for my writing, so I don't do as much as I once did.

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  5. Hi Julie,

    I'm "always" busy and "always" have lots to do. A superwoman/supermom of sorts. Reading keeps me sane. It's very relaxing and a great escape from the stress-of-it-all. So, I guess in my round-a-bout way I've answered your question. Lol. My hobby is...reading. And if they're Harlequin Intrigues, all the better!

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  6. I love to read and draw... both relax me. It is interesting, my family always questioned how I am able to draw... saying no one else in our family ever could... I said they all had other talents like music or building things... now my 1st nephew has the gift... he actually is quite talented with his cartooning at the age of 10. We will see! :D

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    1. My grandmother was a fabulous artist, Colleen. My mom is, too. (Gran was my dad's mother) But I didn't inherit the talent from either side of the family. My talents lie with words and performing, I suppose.

      But I've always admired those with that artistic gift!

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  7. "the previously one-dimensional hero in the proposal I'm currently writing is taking on some of the bad boy hero qualities of the leading men in GUYS & DOLLS. He may not break into song--but he's developing a sarcastic sense of humor."

    Come on, Julie... breaking into a song would be unique and fun!! I'm certain you can work it in somehow.

    ~Angi

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    1. I'd love to, Angi! ;)

      Let's see... "I love you... a bushel and a peck... a bushel and a peck and a--run, honey! The bad guys are here!"

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  8. Well, I'm going to try this again. Couldn't get my post to go through earlier. Anyway, reading is my hobby and has been for a long time. Although I am going to attempt some veggie and herb gardening this year. I have severe RA and can't get down on my knees so it will be a real challenge. I'm going to enlist my oldest grandson and granddaughter (8&6)to help me with this endeavor. I love the smell of an herb garden, especially mints. I used to have a mint garden and when the wind blew it smelled wonderful.

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    1. Hey, Linda--I love the idea of getting your grandkids involved with the gardening. I think multi-generational activities are so important to families. I wish I had a green thumb. I don't. But fortunately, my husband does, so I can select what I want in the yard/garden and he does the work! He raises beautiful flowers every year. And I'm thinking of trying some herbs this year.

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  9. I wish I could have attended the play but just couldn't make it. I'm sure it was great!

    I have many hobbies but I escape into books. They are among my best friends but I have many creative hobbies including jewelry making, card making, knitting and when my hands cooperate, I love to desighn and decorate cakes. Once in a while I write essays about my life that I hope one day my family may enjoy reading.

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    1. We missed getting to see you at the play, Connie. It was fun to hear how Eric's drum part got bigger with each performance . He added a rimshot to some of the jokes. Perfect timing!

      I love the idea about writing down your own stories and thoughts. They make an invaluable record and gift for your family.

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  10. Reading and walking help me calm down.

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  11. I read and watch baseball to get away from the stresses of real life. Glad you had fun at the play. I loved the ones my nephew was in in high school - they did Throughly Modern Milly and Joseph and the Amazing Colored Dreamcoat. Both were awesome.

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  12. Yay, Elaine! Another baseball fan! My dad was a big fan. And since I grew up watching it (and playing softball), I'm a big fan, too. Alas, neither my son or hubby are, though--so I usually watch my Cards and Royals solo.

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  13. Laura AKA Loves 2 Read RomanceFebruary 20, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    I haven't been part of a theater production since I was in elementary school. I really should try for the next play our theater in town. I did get to go to a production last year which was really cute. It was called Honk and was performed by all kids. It was a play off The Ugly Duckling. The kids were so cute!!

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    1. Laura--I know HONK. I played in the orchestra pit when we did a summer theater production of it. It was really cute. I think attending the theater and supporting the arts in your town are wonderful hobbies, too.

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  14. It sounds like you guys had fun! I like to visit museums.

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    1. What museums do you visit, bn100? Art? History? Natural history? When I travel, I especially enjoy when I can go see history or art museums unique to that particular part of the country.

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  15. Besides reading I love jigsaw puzzles and doing crosswords and hope they're keeping my mind sharp.

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  16. They say they do, Jane, in everything I read. I'm a puzzler, too, although I really don't do jigsaw puzzles anymore, unless we're having a big family get-together. Sort of a day-after-Christmas tradition to put one together.

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  17. And the winner is... Quilt Lady!

    Maggie nosed your name out of the pile of entries and selected you as the winner. Congratulations!

    Just send me an email with your snail mail address and choice of Julie Miller book (I'm out of a few backlist titles, so maybe give a second choice, too), and I'll get it in the mail to you ASAP!

    Thank you to everyone who tracked down the new Intrigue Authors blog to visit with me. Enjoy those hobbies! They do so much to enrich our lives.

    Julie Miller

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