In 1972, my Mom signed me and my kid sister up for drama club. I had no idea what we were getting involved in. I was afraid of any of the guys finding out about it. I was scared to death to act. Ms. Judy ran the drama club. She was full of energy and creativity and was great at teaching children. We met on Saturdays at Folger McKinsey Elementary School. The first thing I noticed was the cast was all older girls. I was a third grader and these ladies were all fourth, fifth, and six graders. I was not used to older women.
Our first play was Alice in Wonderland. Initially. I was cast as the Mad Hatter, but the lines were too much for me to remember. Ms. Judy diplomatically downgraded me to the March Hare. I was good either way as I liked the drunken frivolity amongst the Hatter, Hare, and Dormouse. The rapport between the three characters reminded me of the Marx Brothers or The Three Stooges. At ten years of age, I loved the physical comedy of slapstick, so we played our tea party scene over the top. My Mom sewed the costumes. I wore a brown rabbit costume with big brown ears. I can’t remember who played the Mad Hatter, but my younger sister Noelle was the Dormouse.
I, as the only male member of the cast did not like wearing makeup. All the girls loved wearing makeup. Sadly, I was too young to realize I was surrounded by beautiful girls who would become beautiful women. Life is funny that way. I did not mind wearing costumes. We performed the play for our school, then we got to travel to other schools, also. Ms. Judy had two casts, so everyone got a chance to act. After Alice in Wonderland, we performed The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz was a lot of fun. I played the scarecrow on one cast and Carol Flammand played the scarecrow on the opposite cast. Again, my Mom would sew the costumes. I remember Carol because we shared the same first name. I was Carroll. Being named Carroll was like being the boy named Sue. It got me in a lot of fights at a young age. So, knowing a female Carol was different since we were playing the same role. The play was great because of the costumes, sets, and script. I loved having a lead role and our Dorothy was quite pretty, so I liked being in every scene with her. I was too young to know what those feelings of attraction were, but I knew I felt good when I was around her. When she held my hand I felt all warm inside like it was Christmastime.
We never did another play with Ms. Judy and sadly I don’t remember why. I remember talking fondly with my Mother about the drama club before Mom passed away. I’m not sure if she retired, or what. I know the two plays were a highlight of my childhood and I learned a lot about hard work, dedication, and taking chances. Ms. Judy used to say, “Be bold.” I would go on to becoming a member of the stage crew in high school. I would continue to act later in life as an undercover investigator and in other roles that we all play in our lifetime. Like Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.”