Tuesday night I attended a cocktail reception for the Mimes and Mummers, my alma mater Fordham University's theater group, the troupe that gave me a chance to learn, perform, and make some great friends as we brought some great stories and characters to life on stage.
Every time I go to a Mimes and Mummers reunion or see one of their performances, I'm filled with inspiration seeing what they continue to accomplish, and, of course, a flood of memories comes rushing back.
As a college freshman, I thought I could just jump into the types of roles I played in high school, but it was a lesson in humility (that I definitely needed) as I initially struggled to get cast -- I was grateful to just be a part of the group. I helped out any way I could -- being a "dead body" in Arsenic and Old Lace, assistant stage managing The Nerd and stage managing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
I paid attention to the directors and the actors, I worked hard on getting better, and I started getting small parts -- Sandy in The Man Who Came to Dinner, the dual role of Fleance and Young Siward in Macbeth (with a few awesome swordfights that I'll never forget), finally honing my craft enough to earn some of the roles senior year that have stuck with me after all this time: Speed in The Odd Couple, Fred and the Ghost of Christmas Future in A Christmas Carol, and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (set in the New World with the fairies as Native American shapeshifters, one of my favorite theater experiences ever).
I've gone on to perform in other shows and meet other great actors and directors, but those college years will always stick with me. I remember long nights in Collins Theater, rehearsing, helping to build the sets, striking it down when it was all over. I remember the thrill of opening nights, the fun of cast parties, the bonding that took place during every production.
I don't know if they still do it, but the Mimes and Mummers (along with Fordham's Experimental Theater) used to throw an end of season celebration, the Johnny Awards (named after John Collins), and they handed out trophies and plaques to the graduating members. I still cherish that little trophy they gave me back then -- it's sitting on my shelf, just as valuable to me as any Oscar or Emmy or Tony would be.
Thanks for the memories, Mimes and Mummers.