PART ONE: THE JOURNEY
Alright so, it’s been a crazy spring break. Just in general. But yesterday was surreal. I can’t believe it happened. Here’s the story, in FB statuses, Instagrams, tweets, quotes, and my own words.
I was pretty dang upset when I found out Sierra Boggess was coming to Illinois because I was still in Texas. It was already the greatest spring break of my life, but this was the only way it could have been better.
The next morning after I got off the plane, Sierra tweeted that the workshop was that day.
So before I even left the airport, I started plotting. I needed to meet this woman. I don’t know if the hashtag helped or hurt.
No one responded and after about half an hour I got impatient.
After calling my friend Heather and making my case, she said she’d lend me her car. I was happy about this.
And so it began. I’ve been persistent enough to meet celebrities before, but NEVER have I gone to such lengths. I drove someone else’s car with a broken spedometer across a state I’ve never driven in for a chance to meet someone holding a master class I wasn’t enrolled in and had no reason to take. My plan was to wait until the class was over at 9 (that’s pretty much all the information I had besides what university it was at) and find the least creepy way to jump on her.
I got there, walked up to the door, and just stopped.
What was I doing? Was this too creepy? How would I explain to the professors of Millikin why I snuck into their theatre to meet their alumna? Would Sierra want to meet someone who wasn’t from her alma mater? I went to Starbucks to regroup.
Even after texting people about my anxiety on the subject, I was still unsure. Then I checked Twitter.
I took this at a sign that even Sierra wanted me to go. I was already there. I just needed to have the courage to go after what I wanted.
So, I went.
PART TWO: THE WISDOM
People always ask me how I get to meet so many cool people. The answer is I want it badly enough. And luck. And magical pants.
The number one way to sneak in somewhere you shouldn’t be is to look like you belong there. Luckily what I was sneaking into was a musical theatre master class at a university. The tricky part wasn’t looking like a college kid or a musical theatre fanatic, because I’m obviously both of those things. The tricky part was walking into a room of students and professors who work with each other for long hours everyday and blending in enough that no one questions what I’m doing there.
I wasn’t exactly going to walk into the master class by myself, say “hey what’s up” and take a seat on the front row. My original plan wasn’t even to go to the master class, it was to hang around until after. But some professor was walking toward the stage door from the parking lot, farther away than I was from the door. So I walked in front of her, held the door open for her, and we walked in together. Just like that, I was in. Sierra Boggess was just a few yards from me. It took all the acting skills I have to calmly take my seat with the other students and pretend like I was slightly bored like everyone else.
On the inside, I was freaking out. Sierra Boggess was right there. Critiquing people singing some of my favorite songs. She was smiling and laughing and just pouring out all this wisdom. And I wasn’t getting kicked out. No one looked twice at me.
Credit to @JessicaKerr12 on Twitter. I thought whipping out my phone to take a picture would dramatically increase my chances of being noticed so I just tried to commit every moment to memory.
Here’s what I learned from/about Sierra:
- • Squatting and gesticulation are fun
- • Color is another term for emotion
- • 5th gear is the highest emotion
- • There is meaning in every single word and breath
- • Send it- you have more!
- • You have to pull from your own emotional reservoirs
- • Sierra really likes to tell people how enough they are
- • Sierra is the only person I will ever permit to misuse the word “literally” that often
- • If you need to strip during your audition song, you strip
- • Sierra is not afraid to give a standing ovation
When someone said that they were singing Think of Me, I internally laughed. You’re singing Think of Me to arguably the greatest Christine Daae of all time? Good luck with that! The girl seemed really nice. It just seemed like a terrible idea. You wouldn’t sing I Will Always Love You to Whitney Houston, would you?
Anyway, I’m SO glad this happened. Listening to Sierra talk openly and honestly about everything she learned about the song and the part was PRICELESS. Musical theatre gold.
Here are the notes I took:
- • Think of Me happens during the war and is a letter to her lover who’s off in battle (this is what Sierra was told when she got the part in Phantom Las Vegas)
- • Sierra pretends that she’s her grandmother writing to her grandfather
- • You have to sing it to someone on the 4th wall and mean it
- • Think of Me confuses Sierra too!
- • Sierra’s pet-peeve when people play Christine is that they make her into a caricature
- • Christine is confused, not afraid or dumb or unsure of who she is
It was like getting a lecture from Shakespeare on love. I can’t believe I got to experience it.
And now, QUOTES!
- • “It doesn’t make any goddamned sense!” (about Think of Me)
- • “Reserved in the sheets, wild in the sheets!”
- • “It was like ‘Ha! Fuck you, I like my pants!'” (about the song I’m Not Waiting)
- • “We’ve got to see the full-on…thing. I almost said enchilada!”
- • “It is our right to be joyful in our lives and in our songs.”
- • “Thank you for ripping my heart out and taking a giant shit on it. I’m gonna take this shit and fuck you. I’m gonna win a Tony.” (I have no idea how to punctuate this. It was kind of all one sentence.)
- • “We’re not interested in mediocre, we’re interested in extraordinary.”
She. Is. Amazing.
PART THREE: THE PAYOFF
If I didn’t know what was about to happen, I would have been devastated that the workshop was over. I was having the time of my life. But this meant that I was finally going to meet her. She was talking with some professors so I chatted with some students while keeping her in my peripheral. I was going to find the least creepy way to do this. Someone decided to go with the “I’m going to stand here until you talk to me” method, so I just got behind him and someone got behind me and we had a little line going.
The guy wanted life advice and Sierra just poured it on him. She was encouraging, wise, and excited to get to help him. I couldn’t take it all in, though, because I was worrying about what I was going to say. By the time it was my turn, my palms were sweaty, I was blinking a lot, and my heartbeat was apparently at a rave.
Sierra was like this:
And I was like this:
I think she expected me to ask about life lessons or something but even though I’d run this situation through my head a million times, words were just escaping me. A bunch of nonsense came out. Some how I got it out that I was a stage manager and she said “Oh good! We need more of those!”. I think every time she was nice to me, I just got more nervous and got even more stupid. At one point I stopped rambling and she just smiled at me like she was waiting for the question but I didn’t have one. So I talked about my pants. My magical pants that have brought me so much luck over the last week. What kind of idiot talks about their pants to Sierra Boggess? This idiot. She laughed and said she wanted them. On the inside I was like OKAYHEREYOUGO but I just got more nervous and smiled more. I fumbled some lame excuse to get me out of there before I talked about my socks or something. She signed my Broadway journal and said “Alright well I love you and it was nice meeting you! Can’t wait to work with you!” and then I died.
I’m sure I wasn’t nearly as stupid or nervous as I felt. Mainly because that’s impossible. If I’m not speechless when I meet celebrities, I play it cool like it’s no big deal. I freak out before and after, not during.
But yeah, that was my evening with Sierra Boggess. Sometimes I love my life.
And she seems to be enjoying herself, too.
As a bonus, here is video of her a few weeks ago singing Think of Me in the voice of Britney Spears: