November 6, 2000

Play brings back memory of almost-missed opportunity

Josh Renaud

Last week, I returned to my old high school, Hazelwood West, to see the fall play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

West has traditionally had a terrific theater program. This year they decided to break the mold and do a modern version of that classic Shakespearean play. The sets ranged from psychedelic to idyllic, the costumes from hippy to gangster to Backstreet Boys. It was a fun show, all the way around.

Going back to West reminded me of a show from the fall of 1998, called "Scapino." I was involved in that show, and it changed my life.

One thing I should establish is that I bounced around a lot of different schools. In junior high, I attended a small Christian school, and was involved in drama classes there. My freshman year of high school, I attended an even smaller Christian school, and was involved in similar stuff. The entire school had 60 students.

My sophomore year, I transferred to West, and what a change of scenery it was. West had thousands of students, a mammoth auditorium, and a dizzying array of sports fields. In short, I was overwhelmed.

I put off trying out for any plays. Mostly I was intimidated by the size of the auditorium and by the caliber of the people who performed in it. I figured there was no way I could match up. My sophomore and junior years passed, and I couldn't muster the courage to try out.

In the fall of my senior year, I realized that I was running out of chances. There would only be two more plays. I didn't want to graduate, regretting never even trying out.

So, I tried out for "Scapino." I prayed about it before I did it, giving it up to God. I knew if He wanted me to make it, I would be in.

Try-outs were very easy. When I started reading the lines, it was like the fear washed away. I felt like I was back where I belonged.

I didn't get a part.

I went home after the cast list was posted, disappointed, but feeling good about trying out.

Several weeks later, I received a phone call from the student director of the play. One of the leads had dropped out of the play. He wanted to know if I'd be interested in trying out again.

Somehow, I ended up getting that role. "Scapino" was a physical comedy, and my character "Geronte" got to push people around, get tied up in a sack, and yell memorable lines like "What the devil was he doing onboard that boat?" I spent weeks memorizing the lines and coming to practice and rehearsals. It was the biggest role I'd ever had in my life.

My self-confidence soared during the four nights we performed the play. I got a lot of support from friends and family. Being on stage just felt right for me, it energized me.

Amazingly, because of the play, I was asked to take a tiny part in a Rodney D. Young television commercial that aired throughout that winter.

It's amazing the memories that come flooding back when you reminisce. And it's also amazing the opportunities we sometimes miss, just because we're afraid.

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