“Come in, come in for the time of your life, we promise you the time of your life. ‘Cause every day’s the time of your life, when it’s time to play.” These words were written on a tiny sheet of paper, handed out to kids to sing at Sam’s very first real community theatre audition. It was from the musical “Big” based on the Tom Hanks movie and in 2006, at age 5, he landed the part of “child in yellow shirt/toy.” He got to pick his toy type and so he was a yellow power ranger.
In all honesty I would like to say that very few kids auditioned for this show bc no one had heard of it. And it was a “summer” show, notorious for being low on kids because of summer vacations. But still, he was thrilled to be cast in this show.
Sam loved that power ranger/child role
with all his heart and I loved that show. Who doesn’t love the story of Big? A 12 year old boy wishes on a Zoltar machine that he could grow up and be “big” and it comes true. He lives the life of a grown up and realizes how hard it is and then he wants to be a kid again. And the stiff adults that he meets along the way remember the kids that were still inside of them.
I watched the show 15 times that summer. I loved Big Josh, played by Brian, a 15 year old talent dynamo. I loved Susan, played by beautiful and talented Caitlin. I loved the other chatacters played by kids I adored: 16 year old Mallory, as the mom; young 12 year old Haley as a ballet girl; 13 year old Lindsey, who played a collection of funny characters, and 11 year old Branson, who played young Josh. I forged some amazing, lifelong friendships with the mothers whose kids were in this show. Sue, mom of Caitlin and Lindsay, and Audrey, mom of Haley. These teenage girls all babysat my kids until they went off to college.
Last night, Big opened up for the first time in AZ since we did it in 2006. Sam and i went to see it to support local actors we know in the show, including Sue, who, inspired by her daughters and her now empty nest, has taken up acting at the age of 50! The show started and I looked around at the sea of familiar faces in the audience. There was Lindsey, home from college, and Caitlin, home from LA where she has moved since graduating college to pursue a career in acting. There was Brian, a college graduate now home from 4 years in Boston. In their 20s now, those “kids.”
I thought of Mallory, who played the mom and who is now recently married herself. Bransen, little Josh, who left last week for college for 4 years in Boston. And Haley, now in her second year of college, who was forced to grow up very quickly last year when her mom, our Audrey, passed away.
I analyzed the show much more deeply this time. I ached for Josh’s mom, singing about her 12 year old son who is growing up too fast. I thought about how Sam was put in a similar situation this past year, having to grow up too fast and having to become an adult before he was ready. I also finally got grossed out by the notion of Susan sleeping with Josh. She was 31 and he’s 12. I mean, Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins made it cute, but when she sees him as a kid walking in the giant suit in the end, doesn’t she want to vomit? It’s just….. Ewwwww.
Anyway, as I looked around that room last night and saw all of these kids who turned big before my eyes, I just lost it. I cried for the last hour of the show and so I need to apologize to all of you there last night who tried to talk to me while I sobbed incoherently.
It really does happen just like that. You wish you would grow up, and you do. You wish your kids would grow up and out of “that annoying stage”, and then they do. And then all you want for the rest of your life is to be young again. You feel like a teenager inside, but your body just keeps getting older. Your kids keep getting older and changing on the outside, but you still think of them as your babies on the inside. You really just want to stop time. (The video below is the song Josh’s mom sings from the show. Seems like someone used it for a bar mitzvah montage or something which I’m totally gonna steal!)
I keep joking that Sam and I are having the exact same hormonal changes, except that his are coming together to create a young man, and mine are falling apart to turn me into an old lady. We are like passing hormonal ships in the night.
I think we all feel like our insides don’t match our outsides. I think we all want to be silly and childlike way more than its socially acceptable to do. Big reminds us that it’s ok to jump and play when you’re a grown up.
And last night reminded me that it’s ok for me to accept that these kids are mature and grown up as long as I never forget the kids that will always be inside of them.
Stop time video from Big: