Me (far right) with two of my closest Legally Blonde friends

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to play Serena, one of Elle's sorority friends, in Legally Blonde at a community theater in my hometown. It was an amazing experience during which I learned more about myself than I have during any other show. I am so so sad that it's over, but here are the things I learned.

1. This is a family..."You helped me find my way."

During the run of our show, tragedy struck. Our conductor took his own life as we went into the third and final weekend of the show. Everyone was devastated. This was a man who had been in the lives of many of our cast members for more than 15 years. He was also a teacher at my high school.

Our director told us to come to the theater the day we found out. Our entire cast and crew stood on the stage hand in hand and mourned together. Then the owner of the theater opened it to anyone in the Springfield theater community that wanted to come and mourn.

Suddenly, no one was alone anymore. We hugged, we cried, we prayed. And I realized that the reason why I love theater is not just because I like being onstage and affecting the audience. It is because I love being onstage with these people.

The cast of Legally Blonde is my family. I love each and every one of them, and I will always hold dear to my heart the times we shared, both good and bad.

2. The longer the run, the better

Most community theater shows run just two weekends, but we ran for three. I can't believe what a difference it made. You work for more than a month to put a show together, and you deserve to perform it more than six times! We grew into the show and our parts with every performance.

3. Break the mold

As I've mentioned in other posts, I always play the sweet, doe-eyed ingénue or the happy go lucky chorus member. I have never been cast in a part that allowed me to call someone a slut onstage until this show. AND I LOVE IT! It has been so amazing to play a character so different from myself. I discovered new aspects of my acting and was able to trade my classical soprano vibrato for an alto power belt.

4. Yogi Throat Comfort Tea is a savior Have a scratchy throat? Think your voice sounds a little dry? Go straight to the store and buy this stuff! I have been downing it during shows for years, and I swear by it. It kept me healthy during this show as it has in the past.

5. It's not about the compliments

For years I relied on others for my confidence. I couldn't wait to greet the audience after shows and to get compliments from people. They had to say that I did a good job for me to believe it. But something changed during this show. I've been working on it since my workshop with Betty Buckley, and it finally clicked. Confidence from within. When I went out to greet the audience, I had my own opinion on my performance. I did not need anyone to tell me that I was good or bad. I'm not saying that I don't love compliments, especially from people who are important to me; I'm saying that I no longer depend on them for my self worth. And I know now that I do not perform for the compliments; I perform because there is nothing I love more than standing on that stage as the lights go up.