Theater Glory Gone Wrong by
(8 Stories)

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Written in response to Channel 56

I love the  theater!   I saw my first Broadway show at the age of 5 and was smitten.  I imagined that someday I would sing, dance and act my way to stardom.

I loved live theater (and still do!).  I saw my first Broadway show at the age of 5 and was smitten.  I imagined that someday I would sing, dance and act my way to stardom.  

An opportunity arose to try out my acting chops when I  joined  our synagogue theater program.   Most of the actors were teenagers and college students and their productions were well done and well received.  I think I was about 10 years old and along with the  younger kids, I  became part of the chorus.

These shows were all musicals and the group had some exceptionally talented singers and actors.  When plans were made to perform “The King and I”,  the younger kids could play rather realistic parts as the numerous children of the King of Siam.  There was only one speaking part assigned to the children, and that line was given to me!  It was a short, but important line.  As a segue to a big number, I was to say “You Like Us?” and Anna, the teacher, was to answer “Yes, I like you, very much indeed”,  and sang the song, “Getting to Know You.”

I was thrilled that I had been singled out and could not wait for opening night. I was in theater heaven parading in with the other children to the strains of “March of the Children” and sitting on the stage.   When the time came for my one 3 word line, I was so enchanted with the magic of the show  that I forgot to say the line.  I suddenly felt an elbow shoved in my side from the kid sitting next to me, I awoke from my reverie and spit out my line.

I was mortified by my distraction and never forgot the feeling of ruining the pace and tempo of a show.  Somehow this small incident made me rethink the idea of theater acting.  I still love theater, but it’s best sitting in the audience.

Profile photo of Sara Gootblatt Sara Gootblatt

Tags: theater participation, musicals, childhood dreams
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Marian says:

    How cute, Sara. I hope you might be encouraged to try again in community theater. It would be fun and low pressure.

    • You read my mind! Recently I realized that I loved being with people who loved theater. So I joined the theater group last year in the Florida community where I spend the winter and got a small part in a musical revue. (This time my line was only one word, “merci”. I was a bit relieved!). The play was to be in rehearsal from October to the opening planned for March. Unfortunately, I had to back out for this year, since my husband suddenly had to have surgery during that period in New York. Hopefully, if all is well I will try for next season.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Ah Sara, the smell of the greasepaint! I’m so glad you shared that story with us. It is a classic. I never experienced anything like that, though easily could have, but my mother loved to tell the story when she came to visit my brother’s kindergarten class. They were doing the song from “South Pacific”, “Di Tem Moi, Pour Quoi?” My brother had been prepped to translate the simple lyrics into English for the visitors when the class had finished the song. My mother had worked on this with him for some time (I am five years younger and don’t have any memory of it, but heard the tale). When the time came, my brother was called on and asked if he knew what the words meant. He said, “No, but my mother does”.

    I’m sure your delay loomed larger in your mind than it did for the whole production. The show must go on!

    I had a lead role in a big production in college at Brandeis with professional and grad student actors when I was a Junior. Though I didn’t flub any lines, I got a bad review in one paper (I did write about this for Retrospect, called “Follow the Fold and Stray No More”) and decided acting was not the career for me, though I was a Theater major.

    • I love this anecdote! Kids have no filter and that’s grand! My mother was an avid baker and baked yummy cookies and cakes several times a week. My uncle would tease her that store bought baked goods were better. When my mother sent me to school one day with some freshly baked cookies, the teacher asked me, “Are these homemade”? I stammered “No, my Mommy bought them in the store”!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Funny story, Sara. I remember that show very well. I think I even remember your line.

  4. Suzy says:

    This is great, Sara, I love that you wrote a story in response to Betsy’s story! It sounds like your experience in The King and I was traumatic at the time, although, as Betsy says, it probably seemed worse to you than to anyone else. Glad to hear you are ready to give acting another try, only a few years later. 🙂

  5. Brava Sara,
    The King & I is my all-time favorite R & H show, I hope you saw the fabulous Bway revival a few years with Kelly O’Hara!

    And full disclosure to all you Retro writers, Sara and I were childhood friends and I was in that same wonderful children’s drama group at our local synagogue, but the only show I clearly remember was our production of Finians Rainbow, when I was in the chorus belting out “The great, great come-and-get-it-day!”

    Did we know then what great days those really were growing up during – as the local NYC historian Lloyd Ultan has called them – “The Bronx in the Innocent Years!”

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