My husband and I are lucky enough to live close to a great musical theater in the Chicago suburbs, and we’ve held season tickets for years. But I wasn’t looking forward to seeing “Beauty and the Beast” there yesterday.
For one thing, it’s days from Christmas, and I was smack in the middle of my annual bout with anxiety and guilt about the holiday, feelings that predate my brain injury. (As in “The Grinch,” please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason.) I also was overwhelmed and longed for my comforting routines, both of which are well-known TBI traits.
There was also the show itself. “Beauty and the Beast” is family fare, and our former Disney princess is now a city-dwelling career (gasp!) woman.
But as my husband drove us to the theater, I began humming, and then singing lyrics that I thought were stuck somewhere in my brain. I continued as we walked hand in hand from our parking spot a few blocks away:
“Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly.”
My husband reminded me that I was singing the title song–and that brought back a beautiful image of my daughter as a toddler, when I used to finish with our own version of the chorus:
“… Beauty and her daddy.”
He also brought back the memory of our little girl’s purple “Belle dress,” a short, sleeveless number that she wore for such a long time that it eventually became the top for leggings! We still have that Belle dress, by the way.
Somehow I managed to keep the waterworks in check … almost.
Then we got to the theater lobby and beheld all the little Belles in their flowing yellow ballgowns. Beauty, indeed! This was definitely the intended audience, so while I was standing around getting all mushy and nostalgic, my husband was looking around for an adult-Belle pair with whom we could swap our front-row/center tickets. We ended up giving a young girl and her grandma a gift, but it was truly a gift for us, too.
The production was wonderful. The most beautiful moment of all came when, after the candlestick Lumiere cries, “Now we’ll never be human!” a little girl’s voice rang out from the rafters. “Yes, you will!” The audience laughed and applauded. (Later in Act 2, a transformed Lumiere offers a brilliant bit of improv: “Zee child was right!”)
All in all, a fabulous day at the theater. Um, except for the seizure/anxiety attack I fought off in Act 1 when Belle was being ridiculed by the townsfolk for being “odd.” As an oddball, that hit too close to home, plus I’ve been tired and stressed and … you know.
Also, as always during curtain calls, I immediately stood to cheer, adding “Bravo!” and “Brava!” as needed and generally making a fool of myself. I just want the performers to know how much I truly appreciate them. This time, though, I felt my husband pull my sweater down over my pants. I asked later and, yes, my underpants had been showing.