As I’ve mentioned before, I danced as a young'un, and was involved in theatre from an early age as well. This suits my somewhat dramatic personality (NO! Surely not!), and as a young[er] adult, I also did a few shows in a Boston-area community theatre. And this one time? I got to be a stripper! No worries, though, it was G-rated stripping, in the style of early burlesque. I didn’t get to play Gypsy Rose Lee, but I was: Tessie Tura, the Texas Twirler! (and only got to twirl batons, much to my husband’s dismay).
Though I once had aspirations of life as a professional actress, as do most people who have any kind of theatrical background, starting a life with John became my priority, as we journeyed together on the road to the American Dream: two kids, a house, a dog, a cat (not John’s Dream, btw, more a nightmare), two cars and messy closets. But the stage, it beckons.
Trying to fit theatre into my busy, disorganized life hadn't been a priority until recently, when a local theatre group announced auditions for one of my favorite shows. With my husband’s support (as well as The Academy’s, obv) I’ve been warming up my rusty voice and singing along to the soundtrack nearly every day. As have both of my children, who now know most of the words. My house is a strange place to be these days, on account of the singing and jazz hands busting out at any given moment.
So I’m breathing, sleeping, and singing this show, which only leaves one problem. This show?
All those years in ballet, all those years in my high school’s Show Choir, I never learned to tap. It especially wouldn’t have seemed a necessary skill for the life I lead now. I’d probably benefit more from some cooking or closet organization lessons.
Still...I have made a decision. I have to learn to tap.
[Intermission. Laugh amongst yourselves.)
Not ready to expose myself to others and the inevitable hilarity that would be me in tap shoes, I felt a home-school approach would be best, at least for now. If I do decide to subject any poor souls to being in a tap class with me, I’m going to get the giggles out first, so to speak, in the privacy of my own home.
After poring over the myriad options available for Learn-to-Tap DVDs, I decided on this little beauty. And yes, friends, the instructor is the same actress from the classic tv sitcom: One Day at a Time.
The one…the only…Bonnie Franklin.
It’s a bad sign when I got hysterical, all by myself, during her introduction. This thing was filmed during her heyday, and her outfit alone is ridiculous enough. She’s wearing suspenders, for the love of Gregory Hines. She’s an incredibly good tap dancer, not that I’m any judge. (If you ever hear me say that I’m an incredibly good tap dancer, you’ll understand just how poor my critical review qualities are.)
Then, I attempted to tap. On the living room rug, in my socks. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Tap dancing, relying on the rhythm of the feet, is best performed when you can hear the taps on a hard surface. Bonnie Franklin: 1. Me: 0.
I got as far as a shuffle-ball-change-hop-with a lemon twist, or some other nonsense, when the laughter consumed me and I had to stop. Sassy had begun dancing right alongside me and damn if she didn’t actually look like she was tap-dancing. Anyone driving by, glancing through my fishbowl windows, might have called 911 for fear I was suffering some kind of seizure.
I’ll try again, though. I’m sure Savion Glover didn’t pick up tap in a day, even if he'd been able to learn from the great Bonnie Franklin. Which would have been FULLY AWESOME.
To round out my day of tap (otherwise known as ‘The Day the Music Died’) I showed John what I’d learned when he got home. He’d had a bad day.
It’s funny—I can always cheer him up. He was so happy for me he was actually doubled over laughing! He’s the most supportive husband EVER!
Tune in next time for: Tapping with the Rhythmless: Shuffling off to Buffalo (aka Someone Gets Hurt).