Life in Bits

Janiel Miller - Mom. Writer. Distractifier.

Tag: Acting

Life Plans versus Reality. Dance Baby, Dance!

I was always going to dance.

Or sing.

Or star on Broadway.

That was my life.

Then I met a cute boy and married him. We began having kids.

And I loved my husband and my kids. But the thing was, I was ALWAYS going to dance. And sing. And act. And Oh yeah, write. And I was going to do it big. It was what I lived and breathed for. 

But, there was a husband. And there were kids.

Okay. I could focus on the children until they got on their feet, and then once they were old enough I could go back to it all–the stuff I loved and was actually pretty good at. I could do it, and still have the kids and the husband. Because I'd have everyone freshly packaged and ready to go. They wouldn't need me every day. Yeah. That's what I would do.

But . . . it didn't really work that way. My people were time consuming. All consuming. I loved them, but I wasn't as good at them as I was the other stuff. So they took all of my concentration.They were harder. And kind of 24/7. And there were no solid, fast answers. Every moment was something different. Every moment could tax me in some new way. Very little that worked with one child worked with another. Living with a guy when I was a girl was a whole new thing. Nothing was predictable.

Performing? Solid, safe, and free. You learned the choreography, or the song, or the lines. Learned your body and your strength. You practiced and practiced until you didn't just get it right, you infused it with your heart and it infused you. Then you threw it out there and embraced an audience and brought them with you on a journey of your hard work and creation, and you always knew you could spread joy. And you could get it right.

Family? Hurts and boo boo's, and lectures, and apologies, repetition of the mundane, sickness and stress, hormones and tears, dishes and diapers and dishes and dishes and folding and coughing and ear infections and Oh Look! One must deal witih one's fully matched set of excess baggage if one wants to have a harmonious marriage, and so must one's spouse! And omigosh-I-gave-up-what-I-was-good-at-to-do-something-I-am-only-sort-of-okay-at.

And always, always the possibility of getting it wrong. 


I remember dancing. Oh how I remember it. I still do it. I've still got moves. Not bad ones, either. I sing. I act. I write. That time has finally come again. But it's not like it would have been.

No. It's better. Now when I do it, there's something underneath it. There's depth that couldn't be there when I was twenty-one. There's strength. There's power. And above all, there's knowing.

I'm not going to be famous. But I have put my whole guts into what I am doing now–my family. Just like I used to do when I performed. And what I've got now . . . 

 . . . is still here. And will be here tomorrow. And the next day, and year and decade. Because there is no closing night on my children. As for my husband and me? No closing night there either. We're too stubborn. We might have wanted to murder each other a few times over the past twenty-six years, but we would never leave each other. There's just too much experience. And love. He still makes me laugh and feel pretty. I can still dance the snot out of the cha-cha and make him raise his eyebrows. And now, instead of smacking each other upside the head with the Idiot-Stick, we just pick it up, rattle it a few times, throw it in a corner, and go get frozen yogurt.


I guess I don't regret it.

But forgive me if I well-up a bit when we go to the theater. The memories are wonderful. All-in-all, though,  I wouldn't trade them for what I've done. And have. And earned. And built. And become. If nothing else, I'm too tired.



Welcome to the Theatah! Ms. Darbus-Style


I'm playing Ms. Darbus in a local production of "High School Musical."


It's a fundraiser to purchase new curtains for our High School stage. A fundraiser to prevent the drama program from going bankrupt this year, due to the unexpected outlay. (Thank you Mr. Fire Marshall.) 

The point is, however, I never thought I'd play a character like Ms. Darbus. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to do it. To stretch my theatrical wings, if you will. And not that I've never dreamed of being in this musical — which I haven't — and not that it isn't actually going to be cute and full of silly joy and great songs — which it is — but, seriously? Me? As Darbus?

I've always played the ingenue on stage–the endearingly innocent, soprano-voiced little chickie-wickie who wins the heart of the hunky hero. Okay, okay. It's been like 15 years since I was young enough to play a chickie-wickie–and it was a pretty good stretch 15 years ago. But I never pictured myself being a character actress. I don't know why. I am a pretty major spaz. And I dearly LOVE being a spaz. So I guess it's time to let my inner-spaz out on stage.

I need you to help me out here. This is what I'm looking at. I see Darbus as kind of a cross between Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bookay") from "Keeping Up Appearances:


And Miss Jane from the Beverly Hillbillies:



Hmmm? Whaddaya think?

Darbus in the play is vastly more over the top than Darbus in the movie, and I love the two ladies from these clips. What a hoot they are to watch. I want my Darbus to be ridiculous, over the top, and loveable–the way Patricia Routledge and Nancy Kulp played their parts. And I think these actresses accomplished that by having real affection for Hyacinth and Miss Jane.

And seriously. How do you not love a character who says things like this:

"Yes, my brave little detention menagerie . . . "

"Save your bilabial fricatives for someone of your own primitive esthetic ."

"Be the ostrich!"

Yeah. I'm liking her already.



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