I have always belonged on the stage, dressed in some ridiculous costume with my face caked with makeup and my hair frozen in place with a whole bottle of hairspray. It didn’t matter the role, whether I was caste as ensemble or a dead child who springs in and out of the stairs at midnight every night, I put my everything into it. I am an actor; it’s just what I do. I pour my heart out on stage for every show, for every part, for every rehearsal.

Oklahoma! was my first show with the Leominster High School Theatre Company, and I was just an ensemble member. I tried my hardest with every song and dance despite having two left feet and being tone deaf. I still remember the fight that I was put in during “The Farmer and The Cowman.” I was—and still am—one of the smallest kids in the company, so I am constantly being thrown around. For this dance I had to jump on a girl’s back and then she threw me off of her. Despite how terrified I was to be jumping on this senior’s back and afraid that I’d hurt her somehow, we both came to have fun with it, often freezing in comedic poses with me pretending to pull her hair or her pretending to strangle me. We often joked around with each other and talked during breaks. It was small moments like these during my first show with the LHS Theatre Company that made me want to stick around, and for the past two years I have been putting every part of me into every part I get in every show. But this year—my junior year—that all changed.

After a year of trying to convince her, I finally got my best friend, Becca, to join crew our sophomore year. She built and painted while I sang and danced. I saw how much she and everyone else on crew loved it, so I decided that this year I would try crew for the musical, Hello, Dolly! Instead of learning to dance and sing, I am learning how to use a drill and paint. Despite the difficulties of learning new tasks, I’ve enjoyed every second of it. Everyone is willing to help anyone who is struggling. I remember during the first few weeks, I really struggled to master a drill, and Steven, a boy in my grade, came and helped me out. He showed me how to use my body weight by pushing with my knee when I was drilling sideways. He helped me finish drilling in the frame of a wall then face it. Afterwards, I started building with him and some girls from CTE who knew how to use all he tools we had. Even though I was the least skilled out of the group, everyone let me do something and helped me by giving me pointers on things such as hand placement and how to get to those awkwardly placed screws. I’ve spent most of the past few months with this group, joking, laughing, and building. I’ve befriended most of the people in crew and talk to them more than I used to in classes and the halls. I have happily become a tractor, an actor and techie.

I had been nervous about joining crew, worried that I wouldn’t make many friends or that I’d be completely useless. As time went by, however, I realized that I can actually drill pretty well, and I had made more friends within the company. Switching to crew during the musical was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I never would have picked up a drill if I hadn’t joined crew. I never would have had real, genuine conversations with some of the people on crew, despite being a part of the same company. I never would have learned that while I love acting I also love doing crew.

Ironically enough, two days before the show a lead fell and tore a ligament. I was chosen to replace her. No matter what, it seems that I find my way into the spotlight. Although I am upset that I will not be finishing the show with crew, I am so grateful for the opportunity that has been handed to me. Being on crew has been one of the best experiences of my life and it has taught me just how bright people shine in the dark.