The Silver Lining: My 30-Something Perspective

Guest blog by Tassie Collins

What makes an analytical 30-something want to audition for musical theatre for the first time?

Spamalot is a wonderful show!  Here’s one of many favorite lines: “When life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten.  And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”  Who doesn’t want to laugh and smile and dance and sing?  That is what this show is all about! Deciding to do it in front of an audience only took me 32 years.

You might be surprised to learn that I am not the only one involved in the making of Spamalot that has a rather logical, analytical day job.  I learned that Lou, our musical director, is a MATH teacher by day.  Maybe that doesn’t surprise you, but it did me.  I was told she was a teacher and I thought: “Oh, maybe she teaches drama, literature or creative writing.” I didn’t think about math.

I am a school psychologist.  I enjoy working with people, including the little ones.  My job is largely assessments and a sort of detective work where I collect data from many places, put it all together and try to diagnose academic, emotional or behavioral problems’ origins. Then figure out what interventions might work best in helping a particular child overcome or cope with those diagnoses.

So what makes an analytical person do theatre?  What makes an analytical 30-something want to audition for musical theatre for the first time?  The short answer is an awesome show and a couple of inspirational people.  Although, several things happened over the last ten years that led up to this decision.

I have my analytical side but I have always loved music and singing and dancing too.   In my 20s I began seeing Broadway musicals; first in Atlanta and Charlotte and then in NYC. During my first visit to NYC I saw four Broadway musicals including Spamalot. It is a happy, silly, funny show.  I loved that it made fun of everything including itself. I bought the music before I left Shubert Theatre.

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One of Tassie’s inspirations

I also started teaching aerobics classes in my twenties, which included Zumba: a Latin-dance inspired cardio class. These helped me feel comfortable in front of people and dancing in front of strangers. In the past three years, I’ve visited NYC for a few long weekends to binge on Broadway musicals.  I managed to get my 7-year-old niece, Kenslie, excited about theater too.  She made her acting debut at 5 at the Columbia Children’s Theatre in Aladdin.  I was quite a proud Auntie.

Tassie poses with another motivator ~ friend and colleague, Jon

Right after Kenslie’s performance, I started working at a new school where I met a very special guidance counselor whose not-so-secret passion was theatre.  He and I were fast friends and loved talking about shows and actresses and life.  We laughed and smiled together often.  Sometimes one would break into song and the other would join right in.  He wasn’t well so he was not involved in any shows then.  Our friendship was only a little over a year old when he passed away.  In my grief and confusion I thought of all the things we’d planned to do together and never had the chance.  Among them, I was sad that I never saw him perform and that I never had an opportunity to play alongside him.  How much I would’ve loved to be a part of a show that included him. Nothing negative occurs without some silver lining.  Out of my regret came a desire for a new adventure and a desire to be with other people like him, like me, who love to laugh and smile and dance and sing.  When I saw that Town Theatre was putting on Monty Python’s Spamalot, I knew it was the right show for my first audition.

My friend died in September, the very start of this school year.  Working in his school without him there has been difficult and sad.  Spamalot has given me such a wonderful opportunity to smile and laugh and sing and dance; to honor the memory of my warm-hearted, beautiful, sweet, lovely, talented, compassionate, loyal, dedicated, wonderful friend; to be in his beloved theatre with his friends and for a few hours a day forget the sad things and the hard things life sometimes hands us.  A great musical, a 7-year-old girl and Jon Taylor drove out my fear of singing in public and inspired this 30-something to embark on a new adventure.

Knocking One off of the Bucket List

Collins as Patsy
Chip Collins as Patsy; Photo by David Barber

Guest blog by Chip Collins

In the spring of 1987, I was a gangly, slightly nerdy, high school junior trying to figure out, as all teens are at that age, who exactly I was.  Many of my friends at that time were seniors, and one Friday night, as we had just had a great previous weekend in Charleston at the State Math Team competition (OK, maybe more than slightly nerdy…) many of them came over to my house just to hang out and watch a movie.  One of my friends was tasked with bringing the movie.

He brought “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Life.  Changed.

From the beginning credits, without a word even having been spoken at that point, I knew that I had found my place.  My sense of humor, which had always seemed different and, to a degree, more advanced than those of my peers, was validated.  I was, at the same time, both laughing hilariously and becoming fascinated at the high level of intelligent humor that came from this movie.

That missing piece of self-confidence fell into place without even realizing it.

The movie even became one of the first things that helped me work on dialects and imitations, even as exaggerated as they may have been, which have helped me all of these years later during my 15+ years on Columbia stages.

So, when I first learned that it was being made into a musical, I became giddy.  And then, learning the identity of the leads (Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria to be specific), I became downright excited.  When the soundtrack was released I obtained it immediately and began playing it nonstop.  So much so that, my then-four-year-old daughter Victoria would start skipping down the hall to her preschool class singing, “I am not yet dead…”

Yes, I received some strange looks.  But, man, was I a proud dad.

Unfortunately, I was never able to make it up to New York to see the production, but I always knew that if the show ever came to Columbia, I would be auditioning.  Whereas, to many people, Les Misérables is their ultimate “bucket list” show to perform in, Spamalot is mine.  And here I am, in the midst of rehearsing with an incredibly talented and funny cast.

And not only that, I get to sing the most recognizable song in the show.  How awesome is that?

Midlands Gives at Town


What is better than giving? Nothing! And, it is even better to give as a part of our community’s local giving day — Midlands Gives — Tuesday, May 5!

Town Theatre is not your traditional fundraising non-profit that seeks donor support throughout the year. But, after participating in last year’s effort, we are super excited to have the chance to do it again!

All contributions for Town Theatre will go directly to the theatre. So, on May 5, we ask that you:

1) Log on to and
2) Make a donation using your credit or debit card (a $20 minimum).

And, if you give to Town, we will give back to you!

  • For every $25 gift – a voucher for 2 free concession items
  • For $250 – VIP seating for the 97th season
  • A $500 gift allows you to name one of our new patio seats in your honor or in the honor of a person of your choosing
  • For $1,000 – a reserved parking space for each show of the 97th season (that may be the best deal in “Town”!)

Be sure to show your support for Town Theatre on Tuesday, May 5 for the second annual MIDLANDS GIVES event!

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