Gracie’s first production, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was the beginning of what I thought would be a lifetime of theater for the girls. Her bio pic for the Performance Ensemble Group (PEG) number was taken just shy of her 13th birthday. She had not had an easy transition to middle school and this audition, at the suggestion of “Miss Christina ” was a huge leap outside her comfort zone. Her bio, written primarily on her own, thanked Molly for helping her. I remember this time vividly. The noise coming from behind their closed bedroom door, the singing, the dancing, the laughing. Molly had written a schedule and when the time for rehearsing arrived, she put on her announcing voice and dragged Gracie from whatever she was doing.
Gracie’s 7th grade year, 12 turning 13, a three-month experience that changed her life.
We all went to the show, all three of them actually. We helped paint sets; we brought food for the cast breakfast, and we sold tickets. Molly was riveted. She couldn’t stop talking about Rachel Revellese and Jagger Reep, two dance friends that had the leading roles. She wrote Rachel a card and mailed it to her. Gracie and Molly had taken their first steps into the world of theater. We had no idea.
“Fiddler on the Roof” followed Millie and both girls participated. This was RB Productions summer theater and the only play with room was Fiddler. Gracie was in the dance ensemble and Molly was The Fiddler. When the cast list came out and Molly saw that, she cried. She was so excited. Her first play, she would be a boy. The curtain opened to her sitting on a roof playing her violin. She insisted on playing it herself rather than follow the music and the tenderly played notes caught in my throat. The production was amazing, the week-long camp at the end of July was the best week of their summer. When they got their orange fiddler t-shirts, they became a daily piece of their wardrobe. Molly took selfies with every cast member. These pictures are on her phone.
“I have found my people Mom”, she said one day. I believe that she had.
When she wasn’t cast in Golden Goose Molly cried for three days. She was devastated. It was here that she decided to truly become a part of theater as a whole. She and Keisha, her best friend, decided to work on costumes. They created a beautiful feathered cape for Maya Fabozzi to wear as the goose. This backstage experience was as life altering as any role she ever played. Gracie was the bride, a perfectly fitting role for her pretty face. This school year, 2014/2015 Molly and Gracie were in the same school. They loved this. It was one of the things they were looking forward to in high school.
“Once On This Island Junior” introduced Molly to The Children’s Theater project. Karen Braz is to The CTP what Clint Klose is to RB Productions. The performance was at Pembroke Academy and the camp was during February Vacation. Right after that, it was Bugsy Malone Junior with PEG. Watching the girls perform together always filled me up. They were so close in so many ways. So different and yet so similar. They were there for each other. They had each other’s backs. They loved their Bugsy experience.
As Gracie prepared for high school and Molly geared up for 7th grade, they did RB’s “Legally Blonde The Musical” and The CTP’s “Alice in Wonderland”. Two straight weeks of theater! Gracie was exhausted afterwards; Molly was on fire. As their mother, I was filled with pride, happiness and relief. They had found a place to fit that was accepting, they loved their theater friends. They had found a passion equal to and supportive of dance. Their night time conversations before they drifted off to sleep were always about future plans. They really couldn’t wait.
Molly took the fall of 7th grade off from theater. In hindsight this was what I now believe to be caused by her declining health. She didn’t feel good. She did not do the winter CTP show either. She auditioned for Bye Bye Birdie and was given several roles. Gracie auditioned for Anything Goes at CHS and she too was cast in several ensemble roles. They were so excited to see one another perform. While Gracie was able to watch and enjoy Bye Bye Birdie, Molly would never see Gracie perform in a CAST production at CHS. After her death Gracie stopped theater. It was too painful to do without Molly, and quite honestly Molly was a big piece of Gracie’s confidence on stage. She knew she was right there.
When I saw Molly’s bio pic for Bye Bye Birdie, I had a rush of emotion and had to hold back tears. Here she was, a 7th grader, the very age at which Gracie did her first play and started them on their journey. I could have written this memory at that time. It struck such a cord in me, how much had transpired in just two years. MollyGracieGracieMolly no spaces. I had no idea as I stood there reflecting on all of their shows that it would end here. Gracie did participate in RB the summer of 2016. I made her do “Elf” and in return I held track camp. She also helped out on “James and the Giant Peach”. Like Molly had done for Golden Goose, Gracie worked with Cheryl Lampron. Cheryl took good care of her, like she had with Molly.
Much of what is on the fridge has been there since 2016. I am getting ready to take everything down and start anew. It is time to put all of those things into a binder or box. It is Jack’s turn to own the fridge. Those two pictures however will remain. Grace and Molly, celebrating April of their 7th grade years doing what they loved.
Being on stage. Together.
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