Anyway, so Kelsey is currently acting in a performance of The Pajama Game, and we went to her opening night performance on Friday. As always, I was blown away. She had the female lead, and so had a lot of stage time and a lot of singing parts. This was a 'Little Theatre' production, in a small town outside Raleigh, so for a lot of the other actors, this was one of their first shows. Some people were good, others were mediocre, and one young man was almost equally as brilliant as Kelsey -- but the uneven distribution of talent meant that she stood out even more. During the final curtain call, there was a huge swell in the applause when she took the stage for her bow.
We took her out for hamburgers afterwards and told her over and over how amazing she was. She grinned and thanked us and seemed truly touched. "I hammed up that last scene for you guys," she winked. But then, after a few minutes, her demeanor changed. "It's weird," she said thoughtfully, "but that's where I feel like I'm most myself. I mean, of course I'm 'myself' at other times, like when I hang out with you guys... but somehow, when I'm up onstage, that's when I feel the most like me."
Rarely have I ever been so proud of a friend -- but at the same time, it awakens a sense of desperation in me. Kelsey will make a great lawyer -- she's got less than a year left of school -- but she is so talented and so deserving that I feel like it's almost an injustice for her not to make her living doing the thing she truly loves. Some people have talent, but don't choose to pursue it -- we've all seen the teenybopper movies about the uber-talented piano player who wins all the awards and then decides at the crucial moment that she "just doesn't love it" and wants to go in a different direction. Other people have the drive to succeed -- again, we've all watched American Idol; we all know people who are desperate to be singers or authors or athletes, who want it more than anything -- but just don't quite have what it takes.
But Kelsey has both -- the love for the field, and the incredible talent to back it up. And yet the chances of her ever 'making it' in that business are slim, just by virtue of the way our world works. She made the necessary choice to pick a 'real' career, and she'll be wonderful at it, but it breaks my heart to think of her wearing power suits to a courthouse every day, doing the lawyer thing and making the money, and only acting in a couple of tiny community theater plays every year to give herself a little taste of joy. She's so much better than that, and yet there is nothing I can do to help give her what I know she deserves. Watching her was a bittersweet feeling -- if she weren't so damn good, I wouldn't feel so desperate to see her succeed.
Anybody out there with theater connections? ;)