By Chuck Moss
I filed into the sold out auditorium of the Louisa Arts Center on March 2 for what promised to be a fantastic performance of “Ramona Quimby.” The play, directed by Louisa’s own Jelita Perry Hopkins, is based on the beloved books by Beverly Cleary (books that I clearly remember reading as a kid when I was growing up in Fairfax County) and had received rave reviews from countless people on Facebook and on Twitter already. I was ready for a great performance…and, most importantly, I was ready to see my little girl shine.
See, my daughter had been cast as Beezus Quimby, the long-suffering older sister of Ramona and the one who, in many ways, helps keep the Quimby family moving ahead. Sure, Beezus suffers from a little pre-teen angst here and there, but she is never selfish, is never truly beyond seeing the good in people, even in the capricious Ramona.
Beezus is also our narrator in the play. She gets to speak directly to the audience, she provides exposition, back story, and the comic relief that can only pass between an audience and their guide. Through it all, she goes to school, cooks dinner (though Ramona manages to sabotage a lasagna she was fixing for Aunt Bea’s visit), and tries to keep the other characters on a fairly even keel, even when she’s not consciously aware she’s doing it. Frankly, it was the perfect part for my little girl.
Before I go on, let me say that the entire cast and crew of “Ramona Quimby” did a fantastic job. I’m not just saying that, either. They truly shined; lines were memorized, marks were hit, timing was right, and the overall feel was of a truly professional venue. The audience was truly mesmerized, even the youngest members. I want to thank Michael Bollinger for his vision for the Arts Center and for making it part OF Louisa, rather than just a place IN Louisa.
Now, back to my personal journey seen (metaphorically) as an audience member Sunday.
I don’t know at what point it happened (though it wasn’t at some single moment in that auditorium that day; it’s been gradual), but my role as a father changed. I’m still Dad, still the provider, idea man, movie goer-to, putt-putt partner, lunch-buyer, listener, and advice-giver (sometimes that advice is even solicited); but, I’m also a member of an audience watching a confident young lady deliver her lines (the big ones are unscripted, she’ll write those as she goes).
As I stood applauding her, watching through tear-filled eyes as my little girl smiled and took her bows to a standing ovation, I realized that my change in roles was one which all parents face. Some face it with great trepidation; unsure that their child (or children) are ready for the challenges ahead. Well, here’s news: they’re not ready, and that’s okay. They’re facing challenges, after all, and it is the challenges we face that allow us to grow.