The Show Must Go On, Usually

Of course I said yes, even though I had never before had any interest in going on stage.  It wasn’t every day that I was asked to participate.  Usually it was the popular kids who got to perform.  I certainly didn’t qualify.

But Liza was in charge, and Liza was my friend.  Liza was also the tallest kid in 6th grade.  I was the third smallest (Betsy and Annette were smaller, if you’re wondering).  So I was perfect for the part of George Washington’s granddaughter.  Liza, the playwright and tall person, would play General George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War.

We were set to perform Liza’s play in front of the 4th, 5th and 6th graders on the big stage in the auditorium.  We were even allowed to open and close the stage curtains!


Google Image

My part was small, but important — General George Washington’s granddaughter, Nelly.  This is how my big scene was supposed to go.

Following a couple of battle scenes, General George/Liza appears in the living room of his granddaughter, Nelly, who is delighted to see him.  Nelly/Elyse runs up to Grandpa/Liza, and jumps up to give Grandpa a big hug, and say:

“Grandpa!”  Then I was to slowly get down, looking at how Grandpa George/Liza is dressed — in civilian clothes, and continue: “Where are your pretty soldier clothes?”

“I have put them away for good, Nelly,” Grandpa George/Liza responds.  “The War is over.”

It didn’t quite go that way during our performance, though.  Because you see, I was a little bit over excited.  So when it was time for my big scene, well …

The curtain opened…

“GRANDPA!” I screamed, and I ran at Grandpa George/Liza like a ball of fury, and I jumped!

I jumped so hard, in fact, that Grandpa George/Liza dropped me on my butt before falling on his.

You know the adage “the show must go on?  Well I’m assuming I’d never heard it.  I was quite young you see.

I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to deliver the rest of my lines.  Liza managed to choke hers out, somehow.  We were greeted with riotous applause when we did our curtain call.  I’m pretty sure that the kids in the audience liked the improvised version better than the original.

It was years before I would get up the courage to get on stage again.  And while I never again literally fell flat, I did have additional humiliating experiences, so obviously my fear was justified.


I tell this story because someone who followed me in school, and performed in my high school acting group just hit the big time.  And not with her butt.

Alison Porter, who won The Voice last night, also grew up in my hometown, Westport, Connecticut.  She is wildly talented.  And upright.


Of course I have never met her, or seen her perform in real life.  Still, it’s good to see a hometown girl make good, standing on her own two feet.





Filed under Acting, Childhood Traumas, Cool people, Growing up, Humor, keys to success, laughter, Memoir writing, Most Embarassing Moments Evah!, Oh shit, Theatre, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?

36 responses to “The Show Must Go On, Usually

  1. Paul

    Very cool Elyse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your accidental imrov sounds much better than the script. Good show.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, you’re (almost-sorta in a 3 degrees of Kevin Bacon kinda way) friends with a celebrity! Cool!

    And I’m sure the real Nelly did the same thing in her excitement to see her grandpa. They just never printed that fact in the history books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My home town was filled with famous people, actually. There were a couple of them that I knew personally. None of them actually LIKED me, though 😉

      The real Nelly probably fell on her butt a lot. Until I wrote this post, though, I didn’t know if he actually HAD a granddaughter. He did, but she is unlikely to have seen him in his pretty soldier clothes, because she was born after the war was over. Poor Nelly. On her butt for nothing!


  4. I think a stage-diving, floor-hitting scene should be added to every stage production!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hooray for your hometown, which now has two memorable stage performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And the Oscar goes to ….. Elyse (standing ovation) for showing us all the lighter side of the Revolutionary War.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good to know you were “that kid” who made the play memorable! Didn’t want the show to be boring, right?!
    Congrats to your hometown girl as well – that’s great 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You were a show-stealer !! And you’re so right…if all had gone well, it would have been easily forgotten. So…well done ! 💖

    Alisan was brilliant…gave me goosebumps. The area I live can claim Taylor Swift, who hated it when she lived here, by the way. Her father changed their life, moved family to Nashville when she was an aspiring 14 yr. old. They had a vision.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hahaha at your tags. Too funny. Sounds like you stole the show! Yay that your hometown girl won.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s possible that that was exactly how the meeting between George Washington and his granddaughter had happened.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe, but likely slightly different. She wasn’t born until a few decades after the end of the Revolution … But I’m sure she fell on her butt, as did he.


  11. Congratulations on all the reflected glory. By the way, Barbara Mandrell came from my hometown. One of my hometowns. I have a lot of hometowns.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t it originally the Mandrell sisters? Not just one? How to create family harmony by having them start off together then singling out one to become a star and the others, not so much!

      My hometown is near NYC, so there were lots of famous folks around. Paul Newman was always wandering around town (and always — and I mean always — pleasant).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess even in real life, Paul Newman was a Cool Hand Luke.

        From what little I know about Barbara Mandrell, she learned to play the steel guitar real well at a young age (about 7). Her father recognized her talent and got her involved in show business. She also won the Miss Oceanside, California beauty pageant in 1967. I lived there, at the time, but I sure don’t remember her.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I like your improvisation much better!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve always said the story of George Washington could use more physical humor. Kids don’t relate to all the Revolutionary War and Constitution stuff, but everyone can relate to falling on one’s butt.

    Liked by 2 people

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