A son at last

Many years ago I was on a staff retreat in the mountains. The topic of the retreat had to do with developing your personal mission statement. For one of the activities, we were required to find a place and sit, in total silence, alone for an hour. All we could do was think.

For an extrovert and someone who is a bit hyperactive, that was quite a challenge.

I went out on the front porch of this old inn where we were staying and plopped myself in a most comfortable rocking chair. I do like to rock – sort of puts me in a trance. As I looked out toward the enormous purple mountain in front of me, thoughts seemed to easily swim in and out of my head.

At one point, I had a fairly vivid vision – it was that I would have a son.

My vision must have been a bit too many brussel sprouts ’cause it did not come true……until last week.

When we returned to the car after our first fitting for costumes in A Christmas Carol, Stephanie was snickering and Michelle was pouting.

“I didn’t get a long cape this year nor did I get a top hat. Quite disappointing.  I’m the bobby.”

“Yeah dad, but you get to carry the night stick! That’s pretty cool.”

“You’re right about that, plus I have a badge on my helmet! Did you guys like your costumes?”

Stephanie quickly chirped in, “I looove mine! Michelle, tell dad about your costume…”

“You just love it don’t you?” Michelle replied. “I’m a boy. A stinkin’ boy. All they do is burp and fart.” Her voice was getting louder, like Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners, “What do I know about being a boy?”

DSC_1573

Me with my daughters and son.

“Just embrace it Michelle. The mark of a true actor is being able to play any part, especially one of the opposite sex.”

My argument wasn’t helping.

Two days later I made a huge mistake.

Michelle came down to breakfast about to jump out of her skin.

“Why are you so excited?”

“Today is the day we find out who gets to play Mary in the Christmas pageant at school! I mean, I don’t really care if I get it or not, I just want to know.”

“Ahh, I’m a little worried honey.”

“About what dad?”

“Well, I’m afraid Mr. Farmer may have found out about the part you’re playing in A Christmas Carol. I think he might cast you as Joseph.”

As Stephanie nearly choked on her cereal in laughter, Michelle reared her fist back and smacked me in the stomach.

“How’s that for a boy?”

The punch was delivered in jest – well, sort of – it had some gass. But I guess I deserved it.

Michelle has actually accepted her new role. One of her good friends is also a boy so they’ve created a secret boy handshake, and they hit each other in the shoulder and stuff.

I will say when the photographer took her picture for the play poster, he found me after the shooting. “You may want to toughen that boy up a bit! He sits just like a girl!”

I think I have my work cut out for me.

A Christmas Carol, Day 1

Posted by Danny

Tanner family quotes from the first night of A Christmas Carol rehearsals.

  • “I cannot believe it is 5:30 and you have not started your homework!  What have you been doing all afternoon?”  “Watching TV.”  “Unbelieveable!  Just unbelievable.  You’ve got thirty minutes!  Get to work!”
  • “Eat quicker!”
  • “Fifty-five nights!  I have lost my mind.”
  • “Dad, am I an alto, soprano or second soprano?  BTW, what is a second soprano?”
  • “Dad, you backed into a tree.”
  • “&%$#.  I was in a hurry!”
  • “I need to sit by someone who can sing well.”
  • “Danny, is Jesse coming to rehearsal tonight?”  “I’m only his brother-in-law.  I do not know.”
  • “Uncle Jesse sure is cranky.”
  • “I haven’t sung since 1983.”
  • “Is that the tenor part?”  “I just made that up.  I do that when I don’t know what we’re supposed to be singing.”
  • “When they split us up into our stage families, I need to be in a gay marriage and my partner needs to be a tenor.”
  • “What if they put us all in one stage family?  That would be so embarrassing.”
  • “Dad, they’re going to put Michelle in your stage family because she cried at tryouts.”
  • “Lisa is looking down laughing her butt off.”
  • “It’s harder to sing standing.”
  • “Dad, you’d be a good Scrooge.”
  • “This was really fun!  I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

A Christmas Carol – Starring…

Posted by Danny

Ira David Wood and co-Starring (well, “starring” might be a strong word but if you bring a strong pair of binoculars, you might be able to see us in the background)…

The Tanner Family!!!

Jesse Katsopolis – Ironically, started his acting career at the age of six as Tiny Tim in Theater in the Park’s A Christmas Carol.  Was a standout in the Broughton High School award-winning Show Choir.  Pink sparkly vests are no stranger to this performer.  An avid piano player, he’s often caught singing at the top of his lungs as family members enter into the house.  Occasionally mistaken at weddings as a paid professional dancer, Christmas Carol moves will be a cinch.  Won Stunt and Talent night on multiple occasions while a camper and counselor at Camp Sea Gull.

Danny Tanner:  Most often heard singing on the I 440 beltline with the windows open or in the shower where he mesmerizes himself with the amazing echo.  Once played in a handbell quartet, his ability to read music is uncanny.  In 5th grade, won the talent show with a classic hip thrust in the class Soul Train line.   Starred in the play David and Lisa in high school and won the respect of his teacher and classmates for learning to play You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes on the guitar, an instrument he’d never picked up before.  Also got extra credit for being only one of three students who actually memorized his lines.

DJ Tanner:  Only one of two Tanner family members with previous A Christmas Carol experience.  She said her favorite part of the play was trying to teach her on-stage father the dance moves and dancing across the onstage bridge (she may be teaching her REAL father dance moves this go round).  She was robbed the part of Mary in her elementary school Christmas pageant but found her sweet revenge when standing on stage with Scrooge.  She did admit that each night when they rolled a cannon on stage and the huge “bang” rang out, she hid backstage in the bathroom.

Stephanie Tanner:  Actually did play Mary in the elementary school Christmas pageant but DJ said it was just because she had brown hair.  She’s good at acting.  About twice a week she acts like I should ignore the fact that she has once again forgotten to bring home a school assignment.  Her older sister says she’s good at fake crying to get her father’s attention.  Stood by the guy who played the whale in Jonah, the church kids musical, four years ago.  Has actually performed multiple solos in the school chorus and even sang in the State Capital Rotunda last Christmas.  Beautiful voice!

Michelle Tanner:  Has a powerful voice but when singing alone away from Dellwood Drive it is difficult to hear it over her sobbing.  Has a standing role as Zeila the Fortune Teller (shows most Saturday afternoons, Dellwood Drive).  Most recently performed a ventriloquist act in the family den by taping a huge stuffed bunny rabbit to her back and entering the room in reverse.  Writes her own songs, they just don’t make any sense to anyone but her.

 

 

It is a great show and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season–we’ll be doing our best to blend in with the truly talented folks who make up the cast. If you’ve never seen it, or you really just want to check out Jesse and me in tights, you can visit Theatre in the Park’s A Christmas Carol website here.

Our performance this year is dedicated to the woman who taught us how to sing, shared a love for musicals, and always had the guts to try something new.  May we make her proud.

Overcoming Our Fears

Checking out our dance moves

Posted by Danny

I’m really proud of the girls and actually I’m proud of me too!

Theatre in the Park here in Raleigh does an incredible rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Ira David Wood is Scrooge and has performed his magic at Memorial Auditorium for 37 years.

About 25 years ago, Lisa’s family was in the play.  Actually, she would tell you that everyone in the family was in the play except her.  I think she ended up helping in the orchestra pit.  Jesse was Tiny Tim as a child, no surprise there.

And about five years ago, Lisa, Jesse and DJ tried out again and enjoyed a two season run.  I was home with the other two kids for the fifty nights of rehearsals and performance!

This year, we all decided we would put our fears behind us and tryout as a family.  I am trying to work to give the girls experiences that Lisa would have encouraged.  This was totally her.

I’ll have to admit, it was a little nerve-racking.

We all picked out our songs and began the process of in home rehearsals.  At Aunt Sallie’s house last week, we all sang our solos with Nana tickling the ivories.

Tonight before we headed to our tryout, Jesse sat the crowd down.

“It’s ok to be a little nervous” he told us, “but they want to know how you handle the situation.  If you mess up, don’t freak out, just collect yourself and ask to start over again.”

Two family members cried during evening rehearsals in the living room.  That was not a good sign.  But after they cracked on me for my pathetic melody-only accompaniment, the mood lightened.  His next tact was to have us all, in unison, sing our individual solos at the top of our voices on the way to the theatre.  If you were standing on Dixie Trail at 8:30 tonight, you might have heard a concoction of I Saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, Sentimental Man fromWicked, Zip-A-Dee-Dee-Dah, It’s Almost Like Being in Love, and a melody from Disney’s Little Mermaid.  I didn’t sound very good, but it did ease the tension.

Once there, I went first.  I haven’t sung alone in front of anyone since I was in a couple of plays in high school.  I did fine but I sounded a lot better in the shower.  It was not my best shot. 

Stephanie knocked it out of the park as did DJ.  And of course, Jesse had no issues – he just hammed it right up. 

The tears started for Michelle as the rest of us performed; simply nerves.  But with the help of a friend, she pulled herself together and belted outZip-A-Dee like a champ.  She has an incredible voice.  She just needs to be put in these uncomfortable situations on a more frequent basis!

Early on in discussing the tryouts, we decided that we needed to be an all or nothing group.  I just feel like right now we need activities that bring us together and having  a piece of the family out for that many rehearsals would be tough.  I know it will be difficult for them to put the entire family in the production, so our hard work might have been for naught.

But, I’ll have to say that I was really proud that we were able to put our fears behind us and tackle something new.  The experience was a fun thing for us to conquer as a family.  And who knows, one day you might see us appearing in The Sound of Music as the von Trapp Family singers.  We got talent!

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