THE BEST VIEW: The debut

by Norma Best Boucher

I was backstage opening night of my debut performance peeking through the curtain at the audience, asking myself, “What the heck am I doing here?”

Since I was a little girl, I had dreamed of acting. I had dreamed of dancing and singing, also, but I knew early on that those careers were going nowhere…stage fright and nooo talent. I joined the band.

Now, in my 30s, I was answering an ad for acting lessons. “Call Sam O’Connor and learn to act,” the ad said. “Fifty dollars for five lessons.” It took me all of two minutes to decide.

There were 20 of us at that first class, all eager and all pretty average. As we were leaving, Sam called out to me, “Can you memorize?”

“I am a great memorizer,” I told him.

“Good. I need an actress for a play I’m directing. Can you be here for auditions tomorrow night at 7:00?”

I was there at 6:30, and I got the part. Apparently, I fit the bill. I was a female, I was an English teacher, and I was the only one who showed up for the audition. He handed me a script and told me that I was to play the part of Sylvie in Neil Simon’s play, The Odd Couple, the female version.

The three actresses playing the other character parts were seasoned women, seasoned English teachers, and seasoned actresses, all making a comeback.

I had the smallest part, 75 lines of spicy dialogue. We were billed as the town’s own Golden Girls with my playing the Rue McClanahan type – the sassy one. My young son read through my lines with me every night, and with the patience, the coaching, and the friendships of the director and these women, I went out on stage and did not make a fool of myself.

I had succeeded. I was an actress – an amateur, a one-time flash in the pan – but an actress.

Lack of talent hadn’t stopped me; stage fright hadn’t stopped me; and I had experienced that proverbial 15 minutes, or, in my case, 75 lines of fame.


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1 reply
  1. Jane Moore
    Jane Moore says:

    Is this a true story? Very interesting that you you wanted to be an actress, but instead became an english teacher!. Great short story!


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