Guest blog by Kerri Roberts
On the stage, the music begins, the story ignites with melody and lyrics, movement and nuances of character. The energy of the others there with me and those engaged from the audience thrills and drives me. It fills me with a passion and satisfaction like absolutely nothing else. I had almost forgotten. It’s been a long time. Like riding a bike it all came back to me, and I realized once again that this is what I was made to do. But there’s been quite a journey since the last time I was here and I have quite a different perspective.
I can relate to George Banks when he sings, “A man has dreams of walking with giants; to carve his niche in the edifice of time.” I know that feeling. I had dreams of New York City. I had a husband with a heart to go with me anywhere, to support my dreams. We had a plan to pursue it. And then we were surprised with our first sweet baby boy. I knew in an instant that my dreams were changing, growing. That maybe in this life we get to chase many dreams – not just one. And different dreams must take priority in different seasons of our lives. And though I was still able to do a good deal of singing during that time and two shows at Town Theatre, (The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast), my priority was growing into my new role and experiencing new dreams as a mother.
In 2008, another new dream took our family to Zambia, Africa. And we spent the next 7 years living and working there. The things we saw, the people we served, the experiences we lived changed us for the better, forever. For 6 of the 7 years we were there I didn’t sing at all. I wrestled with who I was, with the significance of my life and my passion for music in light of the things I now knew about the world. Then last year I had the opportunity to put together a series of opera and musical theater programs with 3 other American friends who were also living in Zambia. For the first time in years I felt alive doing what I love the most. And I realized the significance of it. Joy. In the faces of those who watched, privileged upper class and the destitute poor. What I was doing brought joy, to me and to others. In addition, doors opened for relationships to be formed that otherwise would not have been. Those performances may not have changed the world, but they changed the atmosphere for those groups of people for that space of time, and I was so grateful.
Over this last year our dreams have expanded yet again and brought us back to the States. In this new season in my life, I feel the overwhelming desire to pursue things that make me feel alive. Not simply for my own joy, but because I get to help shape the dreams of the 5 little people entrusted to me. This is why I decided to audition for Mary Poppins and why I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this stellar production! Not only have I had the chance to rediscover the absolute joy of being on the stage, but my husband and kids get to watch me do the thing I love most. And because my 3 daughters are also in the show I’ve had a front row seat to watch them try something new, and love it too! This is why our community theater is so important. We need places like Town Theatre that give people like me the chance and the space to chase our dreams and to bring joy to the lives of others, right here in our own hometown! I feel so blessed to be a part of Town’s family.
I don’t know how my dreams may develop, but here is what I’ve learned. Maybe my life’s ambition is not to carve one niche in the edifice of time, but to use the gifts given to me to make at least small imprints on the lives of those I touch – my family, my friends, or audiences in a theater. Perhaps the pursuit of one dream doesn’t have to mean death to all other dreams, but there are ways for one dream to actually fortify and strengthen other dreams! We are all gifted in various ways. May we all learn to look for the joy and be willing to expand and grow as our dreams change and take shape. The smallest gift, when used to change the atmosphere of one life, for even a moment, creates a ripple that can change the world.