Embracing Your Theatre Passion

Liz Chirico

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

A friend noted my intense passion for the theater, as evident by my willingness to drive 7 hours in one day for a 2.5 hour show. I didn’t know how to respond to that. For me, NYC has always been a day trip. (The day’s just a little longer now that I live in MA.) And honestly I’ve gone farther for a show. I traveled to London in the fall of 2005 to see Mary Poppins before I knew it would cross the pond. I mean, sure my friend was studying abroad in London so I had a place to sleep but my main priority was seeing Mary Poppins. Bumming around British pubs with her was a bonus. 

I don’t know how this passion/obsession started. I wasn’t involved with theater or dance as a child. I attended shows but until high school, when I could largely pay for tickets myself (or at least contribute a good chunk towards the cost) I only saw a handful of shows. 

I only know that I have loved theater for as long as I can remember. That I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for a glimpse of my favorite theatrical performers and I go crazy when shows past and present are featured. Watching the Tony’s for me is a reverent, almost holy experience. I pour over Playbill articles and interviews on the nominees the way a gambler does before putting it all on Fat Louis to win the 9th race of the day.

The passion has largely been hidden for most of my life. Sure, my family and close friends knew I loved the theater- when in doubt of a gift anything Broadway related was sure to go over big, but I don’t think they fully comprehended it. After all, I didn’t live in NYC, I didn’t come from a theatrical or artistic background, we certainly couldn’t afford to go to shows as a family (and I’m grateful for the sacrifices made so I could attend as many shows as I did those early years). So through high school it was a closet obsession. In college I let my music collection (virtually all soundtracks and show tunes) speak for itself but I didn’t elaborate unless pressed. I learned that while it’s cool to quote Ferris Bueller and Nine Inch Nails (or whatever music group was in vogue- remember soundtracks and show tune CDs?) it’s far less cool to quote from Damn Yankees and Kiss Me Kate. 

Now I embrace my passion. I regale friends with backstage stories and antics I read about via Playbill.com., and proudly have Hamilton lyric battles via Facebook, squeal with glee when finally the Wicked movie looks like it’s going to be a real thing (dear movie gods- please don’t screw it up!). I think Facebook helped, certainly it has for me. It seems like more people are into the theater than I realized or maybe it’s just because more of my feed is made up of those I’ve met via community theater. That’s the other thing. While not everyone in Community Theater may enjoy theater with the same intensity I do, either they understand to a degree or they simply let it be. That attitude helped me be more confident in bringing my passion to others outside the theater world around me.

Now I’ll anxiously countdown the minutes to the livestream of She Loves Me in front of my new in-laws and blast the Waitress soundtrack at work without care or at least without much care. Because I’ve come to realize, recognize and love that this passion I have is as much a part of me as my red hair, freckles and dimples. They are things that make me unique, who I am and things I never want to change.