A ballerina is something that every little girl dreams of becoming. They will bug their parents for dance classes, tutus, performances, and more. What about little boys? What if they were interested in ballerinas but they couldn’t become one because of their gender. Now picture a young boy, at about ten years old. He is going into fourth grade and see’s a local ad for a theatre company. The theatre company is doing “Cinderella JR”. This little boy was me. When I was in elementary school I never knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had made all the usual rounds. I played baseball for about a year, I played soccer for a few years, and that was pretty much my life until about the summer going into fourth grade.
I was driving with my parents one day and we came across a sign posted by the Wyckoff YMCA. They were putting on a production of “Cinderella JR” and I was extremely interested! I asked my mom if I could audition and she said yes! Finally, November rolled around and it was my time to audition. My mom and I got to the YMCA and it was packed. There was a line going out the door and around the building. Needless to say, I was freaking out. I grabbed my moms hand and squeezed as tight as I could, and she squeezed back. Finally, after about an hour and a half it was my time to audition. I had to prepare a short song to sing for the director and then I had to read a small portion of the script. I had decided to sing “Somewhere in my memory” from Home Alone and I was feeling very nervous. I took my place in front of the director and introduced myself. “Hi, my name is Matthew M. and I will be singing Somewhere in my memory. I hope you enjoy!” and with that, I started.
I can’t tell you anything from when I started the song to when I finished it because I don’t even remember! All I remember is finishing the song, smiling, and sitting back down. A couple days later, the cast list was sent out. I got the King! The king was a supporting lead in the show, and he was a big part for someone my age. I can not tell you how excited I was. The rehearsal process was also pretty rigorous for someone my age. We would meet every two or three days a week and have rehearsal until nine. We would go over songs, blocking, and memorizing our lines. We had about two months to rehearse until opening night. During the rehearsal process, I had met so many amazing people and I honestly can say it was the best experience of my life.
Once opening night came, I can say that I was super excited to make my musical theatre debut. It was 5:00 and I had to be at the Y by 5:30 to start getting in my costume and stuff like that. Once I got into costume, I truly felt like I was where I belonged. Finally, it was 7:00 and I heard the places call and I rushed up to the stage. I opened the door to backstage, and saw everyone else in costume and that’s where my nerves kicked in. I was smiling and nodding to everyone as I walked to my place for the opening number; “The Prince is Giving a Ball”. I took a deep breath just as the lights came down and the music started to play. As the curtain opening, I glanced into the audience and saw my entire family in the front row! From that point forward I took back all of my confidence and knew that I was going to amazing! After the first number, as I was coming offstage, so many kids were congratulating each other as they were getting into their next costumes. Once I had changed, I ran to my next entrance spot with the biggest smile on my face. For the rest of the show, I had the most amazing time and loved every moment of it. After the show, I saw my family outside and they were so happy! They all loved the show so much and said everything went amazingly! They said that they loved my costume and that everyone did so good! Both sets of my grandparents came, my family was there, and some of my friends were there too! We took a lot of pictures, and I remember being very tired after, too.
About a few weeks after the show, the choreographer had reached out to my mom and asked if I would be interested in joining one of the dance classes he teaches at the Y. I, of course, said yes. My mom was a little hesitant because we had a lot going on, but she wanted me to be happy and so I joined “Jazz 2”. After going back to school at the beginning of the new year, I was super excited to tell everyone what I did over the summer. I thought people were going to ask me so many different questions, but all I got were a few “Cool” ‘s and people scoffing at me. Yes, dance wasn’t really a norm for boys, but I wasn’t like everyone else. I was different. I started dance lessons a week after my mom had received the call. I was joining the class mid-year so it was a little stressful but it was fun! I made a lot of friends and I still talk to a lot of them today.Throughout this rigorous process of practically throwing myself into the performing arts, I knew that this is somewhere that I would be staying for a while.