Music Monday: From Now On

In high school, I was a member of the National Honor Society and, in turn, was also a clarinet player in the band, dancer on the drill team, cheerleader on the cheerleading squad, and sang as a member of my church choir. I tell you all of this to say that I had many great “team” experiences very early in my life.

But, by far, the most satisfying one came late in my senior year when a newly hired drama teacher decided to put together an acting team to compete in a sanctioned one-act play competition. I auditioned and landed one of the major roles in the play.

I’m not sure why this particular team endeavor was more powerful for me than the others. Many of the other teams I had participated with where larger and grander. But, only this one left me still wanting to participate in it, 45 years later.

The play was called Goodbye to the Clown and had only six characters. I played a grieving mother of a young boy trying to process the death of his father. The role required me to look much older so my director put me in a matronly dress, cooking apron, and brown wig… which definitely did the trick. You can imagine the uproarious laughter and snide remarks from my classmates when I walked on stage at the dress rehearsal before our entire school prior to the competition. I had thought I was ready, but that perceived ridicule caught me by surprise and shook my confidence. Our drama coach knew it.  The evening of our final practice, she took me aside and said,

“In all the years I’ve been coaching drama students, I’ve never met one that was more authentic in their role, more passionate about their performance or more committed to practice as you. But tonight, for some reason, you’re hesitant and playing small, and I think I know why.

Your classmates laughed at you earlier today for about 30 seconds when you appeared on stage. They did it because it was a shock for them to see you for the very first time 100% in character. Now, you’re allowing that short, initial, and understandable reaction to overshadow the 30 minutes that followed of intense performance in which you could have heard a pin drop. You’ve hyper-focused on a short event instead of the long game. 

As we compete, unexpected things are going to happen while you’re on stage. Whether it’s a surprising reaction from the audience, a prop malfunction, a lighting snafu, a stumble, forgotten lines by you or a fellow actor, or a coughing fit that suddenly steals your voice, your job is to expect the unexpected, stay in character, welcome it, dance with it, absorb it, move through it and use it to feed your passion for the work. Do that, and you’ll be a true actor. Do that, and we will be unstoppable.”

When our small-town drama troupe managed to make it all the way to the Texas State Regionals, everyone, including us, was shocked. I was immensely proud to be one of two actors in our group to receive an all-star cast award.

It’s satisfying to be a part of delivering something really good which was born from dedication, sacrifice, coaching, and team work. It’s also extraordinary to feel moments of sheer joy and passion in your work. I felt that for the first time in a significant way with my drama teammates, and I’ve been chasing it my whole life since.

Imagine if your team entered a competition, performing against other teams, for the very best one-act, new client experience? What would you de-construct and re-construct with more precision, flexibility, refinement, creativity, and passion? What kind of practice would you commit to, and what kind of coaching would you seek so that you could land the winning performance no matter the expected surprises?

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I’ve chosen From Now On from the movie, The Greatest Showman, which is performed in rehearsal by Hugh Jackman and cast. The song in and of itself is inspiring, but this particular clip always stirs my soul because it demonstrates how compelling passion can be when you are working on something that matters to you and to your community. It demonstrates how true professionals dance with the unexpected, how practicing and rehearsal make for premium performances, and how unstoppable you become when true passion meets raw talent inside an amazing team.

From now on… I hope you and your team will remember what it’s like to ignite this same kind of passion in your work, that you’ll enjoy the practice it takes to create and perform at your highest level, and that you will feel and know you are absolutely unstoppable.

From Now On from The Greatest Showman

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!

From now on!