Saturday, March 12, 2011

Act Naturally

They're gonna put me in the movies

They're gonna make a big star out of me
And all I gotta do is act naturally

I'm going to warn you right at the start that this post is not about Pompe. It's also not about neuromuscular disease, the folks at Genzyme, CHOP, or the MDA. It's the story of a proud dad and sometimes Grinch who's heart grew five times in one day watching Maddie Jane and her acting debut in Bye Bye Birdie.

Each year our middle school puts on a musical.  A few months ago Maddie decided she wanted to try out and hopefully get a role.  After several viewings of the movie, studying lines, and practicing songs, she was ready for her big chance. That morning she walked into school a bit nervous hoping that she would do the right thing and hopefully see her name on the call back list a few days later.  

Try-outs went well and a few days later she jumped into the car with a big smile on her face.  "I got call backs!", she said.  A few days later she was informed she got the part of Alice, the Mayor's daughter and one of the Telephone Hour girls. She was beaming!  My heart began to grow.  

For the past several weeks she and all the other great kids in the play have gladly committed their afternoons and weekends.  Hours upon hours they worked through the lines, the songs, the stage sets, etc., etc., all with one eye on Opening Night.  Early on she would share a lot about the play, what her role was and what songs she had to sing, but over time she became quiet.  When we asked if she got to sing a few songs and be on the stage a couple times, she would just smile and say, "It's a surprise."   

There has been a build up all this week with dress rehearsals, teasers to the students, and finally Opening Night.  As Maddie scurried around the house last night, followed by Mom preparing her curly hair and make-up, you could feel the excitement.  After weeks of hard work, the play weekend was here.  Now was the time to shine and now was the time to finally show her parents the "surprise".

When we arrived, the school was all Bye Bye Birdie.  From posters, to pins, to star grams and flowers they were ready.  When the curtain rose and the play got underway there was Maddie (sorry, Alice) with curly hair, huge smile, and telephone in hand and bolting out the words to "Telephone Hour".  She looked and sounded great and all I could do was smile.  As the play went on, we discovered that Maddie (sorry, Alice) was  showing up here and there throughout the play with the same smile and big voice.  

So why did I choose the song "Act Naturally"?  Well, if you know Maddie you know that despite all the struggles she faces she has the ability to keep a calm, positive attitude.  Sure I am incredibly biased, but here's a girl who every two weeks gives up a day to sit at CHOP for IV therapy and never complains.  Here's a girl who has been forced to accept a strict diet and exercise regimen while her friends eat and do what they want and again, she never complains.  Here's a girl who has to deal with many issues we don't spend the time detailing on this blog, but does so with grace, a smile and a sense of humor.  So when she came on stage last night, I knew that smile was not a show. It was Maddie, happy to act, happy to sing, and happy to be alive.  

Well, I warned you.  No scientific updates or tearful stories of kids overcoming adversary today.  It's just a proud dad bragging about his daughter.  If you're in the local area and looking for some good wholesome fun tonight or tomorrow, be sure to check out Bye Bye Birdie at LMS.  If you're looking for me, I'll be the guy sitting in the front row with a big smile, fresh flowers, and a huge heart filled with joy for a little girl with curly hair singing...

Well I hope you'll come and see me in the movies

Then I'll know that you will plainly see

The biggest kid that ever hit the big time

And all I gotta do is act naturally

Way to go Maddie Jane!

Credit to: The Beatles, "Act Naturally"

PS: The last line in her bio says... Maddie believes, "Anything is possible, so live life to the fullest!"  Amen, little girl.  Amen!  

Telephone Hour

Dancing with Conrad Birdie