an open letter to community theater

Dear Community Theater,

I have to thank you because you were, and are, exactly what I didn't know I needed. I was skeptical of you at first. But what you have given me is so much more than I had hoped for or expected. At the worst, I thought you would suck up all my free time only to result in less than stellar performances that my family and friends would attend only because they love me. At the best, I thought you would give me something fun to do and would still suck up all my free time. But I underestimated you. By a lot.

Almost every moment has filled me with inexplicable joy. If not immediately, then absolutely in the long run. The challenge of learning a new show and along with it new music, choreography, and blocking. The opportunity to break out my tap shoes again (after a brief, 10+ year hiatus) and brush up on little-used dance skills. The exhausting, yet somehow simultaneously exhilarating, tech week rehearsals. The jittery and adrenaline-driven opening night performance. Unwinding and laughing as a cast after the show. That bittersweet final bow together. Every moment simply leaves me wanting more.

And the people. The people! Kindred spirits. They GET me. But more than that, they are incredibly talented human beings. Where does all this talent come from? By day, they work in offices, hospitals, and schools. By night, they come together to partake in a common hobby. A hobby that is much less satisfying when attempted alone. A hobby that thrives off the mutual passion of a ragtag bunch who work tirelessly to pay the bills but also continue doing what they love. And ultimately, bring joy to not only themselves, but to all who get to see the finished product. I'm telling you, these talented people are not all living in New York and L.A. trying to make it big. They are the next door neighbors, the coworkers, and the casual acquaintances that we never expected it from. Yes, the people are the best part.

Do you take up all my free time? Absolutely. To the point where my family does not see me from Monday morning to Friday night. But you are worth every glorious, tiring, sweaty moment. You are the way I unwind after work. You are my social activity. You are my reason to smile when I have musical theater songs stuck in my head all day at work. I have to thank you, community theater. Because of you, I have found my passion. I have found my people. I have found my home.

Sincerely and with much love,