Overcoming life’s obstacles through performing


On April 12 and 13, the Lawrence Woodmere Academy (LWA) drama department performed our production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” For those who don’t know, the musical was adapted from a 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. The story follows the race between two crafty thieves, Fred Benson and Lawrence Jamieson, each of whom bets he can obtain $50,000 before the other.

I began drama in seventh grade and my first role was in the chorus. I was painfully shy when it came to performing. I never thought people would like my voice and I felt very awkward on stage. Despite my refusal to make eye contact with the audience, someone saw something very special in me.

Teacher Michael Piedmont encouraged me to continue my involvement in drama and to work through the sweaty palms and forgotten lines. The following year I accepted my first lead role and was immediately hooked. It was the shower of compliments and encouragement that I received that convinced me to continue. Suddenly the nausea and doubts were worth it. Since that production I have performed six different lead roles.

Each production allowed me to see my own versatility. I was never typecast. Instead, Kathleen Glasberg (who directed this year’s play) and Mr. Piedmont insisted upon my overcoming my perceived limitations. I became very comfortable, always singing in my range and receiving roles I knew I was capable of portraying. Not until we cast this last musical that I realized my character was not at all in my comfort zone.

She was vulnerable on stage, meek and, not to mention, a mezzo-soprano! I had always considered myself to be an alto. I knew that I could sing in the soprano range but I was never confident in it. We began rehearsals and I simply could not see myself singing this part: It was just too high!

Brittney McFarlane, a fellow actor, had been cast in a role below her usual range. We often considered secretly learning each other’s lines and switching roles on the night of the show. It finally occurred to me with three weeks left of rehearsals that I was going to have to perform and I would either find a way to get comfortable or I would crack on stage.

Our cast completed two wonderful shows and I was surprised by the compliments about my voice. Aside from my personal achievements in drama, it was incredible to see the achievements of my fellow cast members. After five years of drama, Brandon Funderburke was finally able to complete a choreographed dance without any mistakes.

It is a senior drama member tradition to present flowers to all those who have been important to the production of our show. In an emotional presentation, my fellow seniors and I said goodbye to both Hessel Hall and to all those who have taken the journey with us. We will never forget our experiences here and will take the lessons we’ve learned on the stage into the real world. To fellow senior drama geeks Brandon Funderburke, Joshua Torres, Brittney McFarlane, Ricardine Laventure, Taniya Walker, and Tyrra Walker: Thank you for being the drama family I needed.