Monday, April 18, 2011

I Can Still Hear the Bells

Note: I can't seem to get the paragraphs to stay in place. Weird. But let's cut me some slack. I am EXHAUSTED. Last week I had the marvelous opportunity to see two performances of "Hairspray" at a local theater. It's the Hale Center Theater in Orem, and performances are in the round. Son was astounded that they were able to perform so much so well in such a small space. We are now attempting to launch a performance of Phantom of the Opera in our living room, just to see if it can be done. I'm a bit concerned about the chandelier crash, but I digress. I had been dying to see the show, because my cousin Xandra was playing the role of Tracy Turnblad and knowing Xandra, I knew it would be incredible. Plus, it's a show I really enjoy. I get the song "I Can Hear the Bells" stuck in my head for days on end. And I don't seem to mind. To clear up a tiny bit of confusion, Xandra is actually my first cousin once removed. Her mother Laurie is my first cousin. For some reason, this confuses several people when I refer to Xandra as my cousin, but I figure, hey, close enough. Alas the show was sold out almost immediately. But, I had some amazing luck. First, my sister-in-law had two tickets she was unable to use and I was the fortunate recipient. It was a night Xandra wasn't on, but her husband Ben was and the show itself was so enjoyable. Plus, it was such a thrill to just get away from the blah of current life and lose myself in a play. And then? THEN? Xandra's mom and dad worked it out so I got tickets to see another performance, with Xandra. Bless you, bless you Laurie and Eric! I enjoyed that so much. I'll love you forever. Not just for the tickets, but it doesn't hurt. Although I thought all the performers were fantastic and I enjoyed every second of the show, I must say there were some actors in particular that have remained with me, singing and dancing in my head ever since I left the theater. First is my Xandra. Ok, technically she's not just "my" Xandra, but I would certainly lay sole claim if I could. Xandra (short for Alexandra) is tiny. As in, I would love to put her in my pocket and have her sing to me all the time. And it could be done because she would totally fit. (I have no clue how she performed those dances with that fat suit on, but she apparently can do anything.) Her person is so tiny that the only things that it can possibly contain are an astounding joy for life, a goofiness that defies all reason, an enormous heart, several inspiring talents and that voice. That voice has brought me to tears on many occasions. She has performed for years, here, California, New York...this is not just your garden variety talent we're talking about here. The first time I heard her sing, it literally knocked me off my feet. And all I could think was MORE! I want MORE!!! It's impossible for me to be near her and not be affected by her infectious humor, joy and appreciation for life. In short, (no pun intended, dear) I absolutley love this cousin of mine. She's always been quite special to me. Due to certain circumstances when she was a couple of months old, I had the chance to just hold her for a couple of days. Even then, she was unusual. Her eyes would follow something around the room, tracking something I couldn't see, though I certainly have my opinions on just whom she was watching. My Xandra, my little cousin. How I love her. She played Tracy in Hairspray. She WAS Tracy. That joie de vivre, her utter lack of prejudice or malice, and all that enthusiasm and talent...well, that's Xandra. Xandra's husband was also in the performance. I haven't had the chance to meet him as often as I'd like. In fact, I wasn't certain he'd even know who I was, but he either recognized me as family or he's an even better actor than I thought. He was so kind and sweet when we spoke after the play. I suspect he went home and asked Xandra to identify me. Anyway, I was utterly stunned to see him in action. That boy can DANCE. Son asked me to point out which one was Ben. Well that was easy enough. Ben was the only only looking off stage while "Tracy" was kissing "Link." Ben adores Xandra as much as she does him and they are delightful to see both on and off stage. My other favorite performers were people I've never met, but they were incredible. "Penny" had me in stitches, and Edna...oh Edna. For reasons I don't fully understand the part of Edna, Tracy's mother, is played by a man. I don't really care why. He was hilarious. I laughed so hard I think I may have injured myself. Adam, I will be a fan forever. And, the guys who played Seaweed? Good heavens. What talent! I've never seen people dance so well. Color me impressed. I really had only one complaint about the play. It ended. But on the bright side, I'm hoping I can get a private performance of "I Can Hear the Bells" out of Xandra later.