This spring my 11 year-old daughter Anna, attended an audition workshop for The Hobbit at the Wheelock Family Theatre. She had a great time at the workshop and decided to try out for the show. We didn’t know how many kids would be selected or how many would be auditioning. We told her to enjoy the experience and wait to see what would happen.
A few days later Anna received an invitation to join the cast. The rehearsal schedule included with the invitation was daunting - six days a week, with full day sessions on the final weekend and long nights in the last week before Opening Night. Anna has always been a conscientious student and readily agreed to our requirement that all homework be completed before dinner on rehearsal nights.
Rehearsals started on October first. It was a lot of hard work. As a parent the most impressive thing to me was the way that everyone in the cast and crew treated the youngest performers as peers while being mindful of the limits of their abilities and stamina. Anna learned a lot working on her own scenes and listening intently when the director, Shelley Bolman worked with the older kids and adult performers many of whom are professional actors. Anna especially liked working with Robin Liberty who was the Assistant Stage Manager. Susan Lombardi-Verticelli was a warm and calming influence as the Stage Manager.
Anna was one of 20 boys and girls cast as Hobbits and Spiders. They were split into two casts. They were in the first scene of the show as hobbits and two other scenes as spiders. Because of that it wasn’t necessary to attend all 6 rehearsals each week. Also early in the process they were released at 8 or 9 PM while the rest of the cast worked late into the night. Still in the last week the hours and intensity increased. All of those hours together brought Anna and her fellow spiders together as friends.
Opening night was thrilling. It was amazing to see the results of all of that hard work. I will never forget the look on Anna’s face during the curtain call. Her joy became my joy. We don’t know where Anna’s journey will take her as a performer, but I’m sure that this has been an experience she will carry with her for the rest of her life.