You Might Have Hated Me
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
If we had done a show together early on in my career, you might have hated me.
I’ve mentioned before that I did a show once where I played the lead in a gospel-themed musical. This is my one and only experience to date with any form of Christian-based production and I definitely take my experience with a grain of salt.
It was unique, to say the least.
The musical was originally written in another language and then translated into English. We had an ensemble made up mostly of actors from the country that we rehearsed in and a handful of Americans played the roles that required the most English speaking. The production team was all from that country and communicated with the Americans through an interpreter. It was all absolutely as confusing as it sounds.
After a tension-filled rehearsal process we landed on American soil to begin performances. We started in New York City, went on to Philadelphia, then ended in D.C., wrapping up at The Kennedy Center. We were in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day. Emily (who had come to my rescue during my contract debacle) decided to put together a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the entire cast and crew.
We didn’t have a show that day but we were scheduled to sing a couple numbers from the show at an event downtown that evening. This put us on a tight schedule for Thanksgiving dinner. We carpooled our whole 50-person operation out to a church in rural Pennsylvania that was hosting our dinner and got the meal going without any setbacks. We all enjoyed a wonderful meal and time together. It was fun watching our predominantly-foreign cast and crew experience their first Thanksgiving meal. They loved the sides and deserts but couldn’t understand the fuss Americans make over the turkey!
When the meal was over we packed up to go. Try as we did to get out of it, Emily and I ended up back in a certain American cast mate’s car. We had learned on the drive to the church that this individual liked to look at the person he was talking to as he was driving. Like, the entire time that words were coming out of his mouth, he wanted to be looking at who he was talking to instead of the road. And his steering was connected to the direction his head was turned so every time he turned his head to talk to someone the car would swerve.
Oh, did I mention it was SNOWING?!
We were less than thrilled about being taxied back to town by Steve. The one benefit to driving with him was that he was from Philadelphia and had assured us that he knew a short-cut to get back, which was great news because we were running late.
Steve did not know a short-cut. Steve knew a long-cut.
Mr. “I-know-these-roads-like-the-back-of-my-hand” got us lost! In the snow! With lots of talking and swerving! It felt so dangerous and like it would never end. Back in those days, I hadn’t learned to process or communicate negative emotions in a healthy way, so smoke was coming out of my ears by the time we arrived.
We were so late arriving that the rest of the cast was already in sound check. Emily was too nauseous from all the swerving to be upset, which worked for me because I was upset enough for the both of us. A ticking time bomb of unfiltered anger and irritation. After sound check, the pastor that was traveling with us (sort of acting as our stage manager) called us all together. Once assembled, he looked at me and told me through our interpreter to choose one of the two songs I was scheduled to sing because my understudy was going to sing the other.
This sort of last minute change in plans is normal for the culture they live in. It’s not a big deal in their culture to make an agreement and then change your mind. It wasn’t intended to be a slight to me. But if you have read my story about the addendum to my contract that the producer of our show had tried to make me sign while we were still in rehearsals, you’ll know that I was rather sensitive at the time to any suggestion of being replaced by my understudy.
The time bomb went off. BOOM went Megan.
The dangerous “short-cut” car ride, the stress of being late to call time and months of tension-filled language and cultural barriers boiled up and brimmed over. I couldn’t think past what I was feeling.
I heard a belligerent voice say, “I’m either doing both songs or I won’t perform at all!”
I was as shocked as anybody else but too angry to take it back and too dumb to stop talking. Words kept coming out and I heard myself saying something about how I would have expected such treatment from non-Christians but certainly not from Christians. (Yep, I played that hit song.) All of the frustration from the scary car ride, my still-fresh wound from the producer, every poorly-handled circumstance and misunderstanding throughout rehearsals and performances came flooding out and I had no intention of damming it back up.
It’s a good thing I’m good at apologizing. I’ll share the end of the story next time.