I wish you could have known me in high school. It was the early 90s in the ‘burbs north of Dallas. My band pants came all the way up to my neck, I stayed late after school every spring because I was on the mock trial team, and I eventually ascended to the rank of Vice-President of Skits for America’s Pride.
You heard me right. Skits. It was critical that we perform these skits flawlessly so that we might encourage 3rd graders to “just say no” to drugs. I do feel like I changed the trajectory of alot of suburban children’s lives thru my skit leadership, thanks for asking.
A gal named Amy Rogers moved to town my freshman year— she was a sophmore and we became fast friends. She too had her own pair of high-waisted band pants (but she played the clarinet) and she also joined America’s Pride. In fact, Amy was my predecessor as Skit Czar. I frankly owe her a lot of credit for my administration’s success as she taught me everything I needed to know before she graduated and went on to Texas A&M.
During those years, Amy also introduced me and our friends to a band that has ended up being one of my favorite musical groups of all time— ABBA.
Now, mind you, ABBA was popular around the time Amy and I were born (which was the mid-70s), so we were a little late to the party—but the cool kids love vintage music, right? Her parents had ABBA albums on reel to reel, so her dad copied all their hits onto a cassette tape for me.
I loved to roll down the window and sing along with the Swedes in my white Geo Spectrum 5-speed with no power-steering. Sidenote: Amy’s dad also taught me how to drive a stick Christmas Break 1992. Sometimes an adult who isn’t your parent is more patient when you grind the gears, pop the clutch and kill the engine 437 times.
Fast forward and flip the cassette tape to 2019— and those same songs have me dancing, jiving and having the time of my life. Right here in Muskogee.
Muskogee Little Theatre opens its Spring Musical, “Mamma Mia!” this Friday for a nine show run over two weeks. Featuring almost every ABBA favorite I can think of, the musical weaves the story of a woman, her daughter and that daughter’s quest to find her father. The show is set in the early 1990s, so that’s a bit of art imitating life for me. Except I totally know who my dad is. His name is Bill.
I have the privilege to play a bit part in this musical— I sing and dance in the background. Yes, the diva in me thought about pushing my friend Gayla Lindsay into the pit early on so that I could steal her lead role as Donna, but she has a lot of lines. So, I decided it best to stick with learning how to dance and sing simultaneously. She and the whole cast, crew and director Chrissie Wagner are doing a beautiful job of bringing this Tony-nominated musical to stage right here in Muskogee. If you don’t have tickets, go to muskogeelittletheatre.com to snag some fast.
This experience has checked off two of my New Year’s resolutions that I wrote about back in January— to make new friends and to try something new. I am grateful.
So as we head into opening night this Friday, I want to say thank you for the music, Amy. Who knew that 27 years later, I would get to spend 2 and half months singing all our favorite ABBA songs, dusting off my skit performace skills that lay dormant for decades, and making new friends who might also have an impact on me in the years ahead? What a joy, what a life, what a chance!