When I was in eighth grade, I played the lead in The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter. Petunia Pompington. I have no idea how I even got this role, as I don’t even remember an audition. Luckily for me, and for those around me, the play was not a musical. Regardless, I was thrilled to play this part…even if it meant wearing my sister’s old Bat Mitzvah dress, which could have doubled as a Shabbat tablecloth for my mother, or possibly something that got worn in that little house. You know…the one on the prairie. I can’t promise that there wasn’t a bonnet involved either. I remember running lines until I could recite not only my own lines, but the lines of every single cast member. I was the star of the show…of course I knew every line.
The thing, though, is that no one remembers that I was even in this play, let alone in the starring role. At all. The only thing that anyone remembers was that Josh Stein said his one line wrong. The line was “Can you take off that ridiculous hat..I can’t see a thing!” I knew this, of course. So, when it came time to say his line, while I mouthed the right line silently, he actually said this…”Can you take off that ridiculous hate…I can’t see a fucking thing!” Yes. The tall red head stole the show. He took the spotlight away from me. He dropped an f-bomb in the middle of a Jewish Day School play. You know what that means, right? There were beards in the audience. Real rabbi beards…not the scary Brad Pitt kind.
My moment to shine, forgotten. Petunia who? Doesn’t matter of course, because Stein swore.
I knew at that moment that I was completely forgettable as an actress.
But, you guys, my kid?
She’s anything but. She is a star, and she doesn’t even need to do anything other than be herself. She had the audience laughing, smiling, gasping.
Willy Wonka himself could have used the c-word on that stage, and Emily still would have gotten a standing ovation and cat calls from the audience. She still would have strangers coming up to her after the show to tell her how she is destined for greatness.Â Surprisingly, even her brother and sister are big fans, which, you guys, if you spent more than 2.5 minutes with the three of them in the car, you would know that this is huge.
Isabella: “Emily is so famous that she could be up on the wall at Menchie’s, like Taylor Swift.”
Josh: “The girl who played Willy Wonka is in my class. She was pretty good. But nowhere near as awesome as Emily.”
I’m still picking my jaw up off of the floor.
And I still don’t know where she gets this from; this ability to knock the socks off of everyone in her path; this ability to get up on a stage and belt out a tune like it’s nothing. She sings like no one’s listening. She dances like no one’s watching. She acts like no one’s there.
God, I hope she always will.