Community Music Therapy & Community Theatre Intersect (Part 2)

Loving Children or Loathing Children…

As a music therapist in Jackson, MI, my mission largely revolves around bringing growth, development, and joy to children through music. Recently, I began a delightful yet unexpected journey back to the world of community theatre, where I found myself cast as the Baroness in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” A character with a stark contrast to my real-life position of work in early childhood.

In the musical, I portray the Baroness – an over-the-top, attention-seeking, tad bit bonkers, childless woman, who screams at the mere mention of children. She despises children and goes to extreme lengths to rid her country of them. The irony is not lost on me, considering my day-to-day work involves sharing music with children in our Harmony Garden Sprouts classes and in many early childhood centers in Jackson. It’s a hilarious twist of fate that has added a unique flavor to my experience in the local community theatre scene.

Playing this role has been an absolute blast! What makes this experience even more amusing is the fact that my two daughters are also part of the production, portraying characters that, in the storyline, my Baroness loathes. It’s a family affair filled with laughter, both on and off the stage.

It’s also been fun catching up with the children who came to see the show! After each production, we meet the audience in the lobby. One night after our performance, a little boy repeatedly approached me, confidently claiming (while giggling) that he could make me cry. To humor him, I played along, screaming and shedding fake tears every time he gleefully shouted, “children!” in my direction! The kids have been so much fun to see at the end of the show!

Connecting with Children or Capturing Children…

I’ve spent 17 years fostering connections with children, creating a safe and musical space for them to express themselves. Helping children unlock language, communication, expression, and social emotional goals. One of the delightful revelations during this production has been recognizing familiar faces among the young cast. Out of the nine children in the show, I have personally shared music with four of them before they entered kindergarten. Two of the children in this cast were former kiddos that I made music with for years at ABC Academy! And now, we find ourselves on the same stage, creating a different kind of music together!

The joy of performing in a beloved musical like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” goes beyond the spotlight and applause. It’s about the camaraderie built with fellow actors, the shared laughter during rehearsals, and the sheer delight of bringing this fantasmagorical story to life. In a way, this theatrical journey has become a testament to the transformative power of the arts. I’ve witnessed firsthand how music can bridge gaps and connect people of all ages. Now, on the stage again after a 12yr hiatus, I’m experiencing the magic of theatre again. Where roles and personas can be donned and shed like costumes, allowing us to explore the vast spectrum of human experiences.

Curtains Rising or Curtains Closing…

As the curtains rise on each performance, I’m enjoying the opportunity to transport the audience into the whimsical world. Where the Baroness reigns, even if only for a brief moment in the spotlight. In the end, whether sharing music with children in the community or embodying a character on stage, the common thread is the celebration of individuality, creativity, connection, and the boundless possibilities that the world of performing arts offers. This experience has been nothing short of a delightful!

Thank you to everyone who has come out to see us! There is still one more weekend left if you want to catch the Chitty Chitty magic with Center Stage Jackson!