Holy cow, how did that happen? That little curly-haired blonde 6-year old, singing and dancing on the movie screens...come on, this cannot be true.
When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, my teacher, enamored with Miss Temple, decided we should put on a show. On the school stage. And she wanted me to sing "When I Grow Up." The other kids would be lined up behind me, in a half-circle formation, and I would come out, dressed as a little old lady, wearing round glasses and a battered lady's straw hat, and clumpy shoes, and sing Shirley's song right out.
I was so ready! Wow, a chance to sing like Shirley Temple! Of course, with my dark eyes and dark hair, there wasn't one chance anyone would mistake me for the little blonde beauty, but my costume would take care of that. I practiced at home in front of the huge mirror in our front hallway. I learned the words and the tune in no time. I wouldn't get to tap dance like Shirley; too bad, we had wooden floors in front of that mirror, and I could have bashed away at them, pretending I knew what I was doing.
Finally, the evening came. My Mom was a basket case, putting little-old-lady makeup on me, fussing with the glasses, fixing the hat. Waiting in the wings, I could see the other kids lining up, singing another Temple song, one I've forgotten over the years. Then I came out, smiling, and turned and faced: THE AUDIENCE!
Row after row after row of faces, upturned towards the stage. Towards me. Oh NO!! I hadn't thought for one minute about that auditorium being filled with people watching me, listening to me. My mouth opened. Nothing came out. I could feel my face turning red.
So, I turned and faced the kids behind me, and sang very tremulously to THEM. I could hear soft laughter from the audience, but I simply could not turn and face them. When I finished, and ran off stage, some kind souls applauded. My poor Mom was beside herself, although she certainly understood. She told me later that the show should have been rehearsed in the afternoon, with the auditorium filled with other students, to get all of us used to they're being there. Oh well.
Did Shirley ever have that problem? I doubt it! And I did go on in later life to parts in plays, in musicals, in little theater, so I wasn't scarred for life. I wanted most to be in a chorus line, and I WAS, in South Pacific as one of the nurses.
Happy 80th Birthday, Shirley!
Labels: stage debut