It wasn’t a high school for the performing arts, but it came darn close.
Every year, my Catholic high school raised the majority of its operating funds by putting on two plays and a musical. With about 360 kids in four grades, that meant that at some point, you were in a show.
By the time I arrived for freshman year, resplendent in my sister’s hand-me-down red blazer and plaid skirt, the school knew how to wow its stolid upstate New York audience and the musical was firmly established as the social event of the year. Costumes were rented from Broadway, set construction overseen by local home builders, and the Capital Theater booked for 8 shows. Opened in 1928 as the first theater in the area for “talkie” movies, the theater was still an opulent, albeit faded, reminder of the Roaring Twenties by the time I walked its boards.
Treading the Boards
I auditioned and won a role in every production the school put on. Freshman year I was cast as a plucky maid in George M!, the lively musical show about the life of Broadway actor and producer George M. Cohan. He wrote classics like “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “Over There.” I still remember the words to half a dozen Cohan songs and will sing on request.
The show had a cast of 100, all of whom took tap lessons for months before. The guy who played George went on to become a professional dancer. The rousing final number included a Rockettes-style kick line holding sparklers.
As the music faded, a scratchy recording of a male voice started. “My father thanks you. My mother thanks you. My sister thanks you. And as for myself, it goes without saying.”
The voice was George M. Cohan himself, from a recording made when he was playing vaudeville with his parents and sister as The Four Cohans.
I’m channeling George today. As an author, I have many people to thank for their support, friendship, and inspiration.
First, thanks to readers who bought, read, and reviewed THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz books. In response to the number one question I receive, “When is the next Emilia Cruz coming out?” I can say KING PESO just came out.
Sign up for the Mystery Ahead webzine and you’ll never miss #booknews again.
Next, thanks is due to the generous fellow authors who helped me raise funds for water.org: Sharon Lee Johnson, Norm Hamilton, and Jerold Last. Bless you all.
To the many authors, bloggers, store owners, publishers, and pundits who contributed to the Bookstore of the Future project, especially thriller author Dale Brown, who was the first to respond. I was thrilled to get responses as well from marketing “evangelist” Guy Kawasaki, and historical novelist Bernard Cornwell. It was a fascinating project and the conclusions were surprising to many.
To the virtual friends from three special Facebook groups: Mystery Readers Corner, which does not allow any promotion but is the best place to talk about mysteries; Instant Bestseller, a group of authors connected by Tim Grahl’s online marketing course based on his book YOUR FIRST 1000 COPIES; and Mexico Writers, a vibrant community of authors whose passion for Mexico is evident every day.
Being an author isn’t musical theater, but a journey of a thousand steps. I’ve said thanks, but know that every day, it goes without saying.