Meanwhile: The Holiday Season

  December 19, 2019  

By Erin Frey | 2 MIN READ

Forgive me for being sentimental, but it’s the holiday season- there’s no better time for a little indulgence! For me, the theatre and the holidays are inextricably linked. Christmas 1991 was really where it all started. Under the tree tickets to The Phantom of the Opera were waiting for me. Turns out it was much more than just an evening’s entertainment. It was the start of a series of experiences that have shaped my life. A source of magic and wonder that still manages to surprise and delight me. 

My theatre story begins under that tree, in an envelope inside a box full of mismatched socks. An envelope that I didn’t realize was anything special until my entire family yelled at me to open the envelope. Fast forward to the theatre, a bag of red, black and white mask-shaped wine gums in my hand as I sat in row T. It was everything. I got a souvenir necklace too that I wore everyday. 

Recess with my friends (yes there was more than one of us- I don’t know how we found each other). We’d attempt to sing the end of “Think of Me” without screeching. We didn’t succeed, but every day we’d stretch our ranges to their limits. 

That same year I was in my first school play. I was Molly in Annie and I still remember most of my lines- there weren’t many so it isn’t that impressive: “Annie, Annie, ANNIE!” “She hadda go bafroom” and “They wasn’t her parents mister, they was bad people!”  

When I was a little older, my brother, in a fit of herculean strength, pried open the subway doors that shut just as he got onto the train while I was stuck alone on the platform. We were on our way to see Stomp. 

My mom telling her friends and our family that my high school plays were on par with professional productions. They absolutely weren’t- I’ve watched some of the videos! 

Meeting my future husband at an audition for West Side Story.    

My words performed in front of a paying audience. 

Seeing a play in Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. 

My four-year-old nephew on my lap clapping so hard that his little hands must have hurt after “Circle of Life.” He turned to me and asked “is there more auntie?” and I told him that this was just the beginning. 

My newly ringed finger at a performance of Arms and the Man at the Shaw festival. 

Laughing and cheering and crying with two of the most wonderful women I know at Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Seeing my dad wipe away a tear during War Horse as I just let the tears fall. 

Swooning for Hugh Jackman with my sister when he stood so close to our seats that if he farted our hair would have blown in the wind. 

Rushing to the car to breastfeed my two-month-old daughter (who refused to take a bottle) during the intermission for Arcadia which happens to be my favourite play. My husband waited with her outside the Studio Theatre at the Shaw Festival so that I wouldn’t have to miss it. 

My excitement when I found out it would be remounted at the Royal Alex a year later. 

My youngest daughter reminding me to turn off my phone before the Mother’s Day performance of Annie

There are too many special moments to share them all, but these are some of my favourites. On stage love, loss, fear, doubt, joy, despair and everything in between play out before our eyes. Sometimes in seemingly impossible ways. But the true magic of the theatre exists in the shared experience. There are few places where that exists and I am privileged to work where the magic happens, where there are butterflies as the lights go down and you know something incredible is coming. I wish you a very happy holiday season and I hope you are able to experience some magic of your own.