I finished 2021 and started 2022 back working at my beloved Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, playing Billy Bigelow’s Heavenly Friend in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel. It’s a lovely little role–HF is the buddy Billy needed but didn’t have when he was alive back on earth; he’s the antithesis of the self-serving and deceitful Jigger. HF is also a character who provides tough love to help reform Billy.
It was the first show back onstage since covid lockdown for most of our huge 32-person, 12-musician company. It was, amazingly, also my first Rodgers and Hammerstein show! We had an incredible cast and crew, great designs (including Allen Cornell’s gorgeous sets, which included an actual working carousel onstage!), beautiful music, wonderful choreography and stage movement by D.J. Salisbury–and we only got to give one week of performances before being shut down due to covid cases in the orchestra and crew. It was heartbreaking. And unfortunately, my husband and I both caught covid as well, since the musicians were staying at the same hotel with the cast.
It was so hard to close the first show back, especially given all the time, energy, testing, money, and love that was poured into this production. But at least we got to play for a week, and those audiences were deeply moved. We weren’t there long, but we were there. And we all learned some things, too, about this new world of pandemic performing. I look forward to returning to Riverside in another show once the pandemic is truly behind us.