I am a third-generation performer. I grew up in a home where my mother sang show tunes and my dad played rock and roll. As a young child, I watched my grandmother perform on the Weathervane stage, and knew someday I wanted to be up there too.
I am also a third-generation attorney. My grandfather started the law firm where both my parents began their legal careers. Even though I now run a law office with my mother, this is not where I envisioned myself as a child. I wanted to be on stage. Throughout my life, I have struggled to find balance between these two conflicting sides of me.
All through high school, I performed on stage and once I got to college, I worked hard to break into the theater scene. The summer of my junior year, I wanted to study abroad in London. There were two programs Ohio State University offered that could get me there: a theater program and a prelaw program. Since I couldn’t envision my practical mother paying for me to watch plays for a summer across the sea, I chose the prelaw program.
It was an amazing experience, and I returned a changed person. I found myself becoming disenchanted by my college theater troupe and in love with the law and all of its complexities. While I was stuck at rehearsal, my new prelaw friends were discussing ethics, philosophy and LSAT exams. I desperately wanted to join them. There wasn’t time to do both, and this meant I had to make a choice.
Again, I chose the law and quit my theater troupe. It seemed like my choice was final and this was my sole future path. I was applying to law school, and the actress side of me was doomed to be a memory of my childhood.
Off to law school I went, but I never managed to kick the theater habit completely. I signed up for dance classes on Tuesday nights, and on Thursday nights, I would karaoke with my classmates. Some nights I did actually study, but I would find myself singing the “Legally Blonde” musical soundtrack as I did.
Reacquainting with a true love
When I graduated law school and moved back to Northeast Ohio to start my law practice, I had a hard time adjusting. Work was challenging intellectually and draining emotionally. It was difficult to leave the office behind when I went home alone at night. I was lonely. I tried professional networking, speed dating and gym classes to meet new people, but my life needed something more. So I went back to my first love, the theater.
Breaking back into the theater world after years away was difficult, and I struggled to get cast. I remember sitting in one callback, looking around a room full of 19-year-old petite blonde theater majors and feeling incredibly out of place. I was ready to give up, but then I got cast in Weathervane’s mainstage spring musical, and suddenly I was back in the game.
After I returned to the stage I couldn’t stop. I did show after show until I nearly burned out. I’ve since learned to temper myself and I have recently found a nice balance between theater and my law career.
I’ve learned that I can’t be in every show, which forces me to choose my projects carefully. They have to be local and they have to be labors of love that fit into my busy schedule. When I originally heard that Weathervane was doing “I Love You Because,” I carefully circled the audition date, did a little happy dance and hung it on my refrigerator for almost a year.
Unless you’re deep in the heart of contemporary musical theater, you’ve probably never heard of “I Love You Because.” It opened off-Broadway in 2006 and ran for just under five months. Yet, even not knowing it, the show will be achingly familiar to anyone who did not get love right on the first shot and is stuck in the Wild West of dating in modern times.
“I Love You Because” is billed as a modern musical version of “Pride and Prejudice.” Yet, the dating rituals have changed dramatically since the book was written. Jane Austen would have a hard time recognizing the love story performed on Weathervane’s stage today.
Similarly, I simply cannot relate to Jane Austen’s antiquated dating customs. My parents have never sent me to a ball in hopes that I would find a good husband who would provide for me and propose after one dance (Although, if my mother could find such an event, I’m sure she would).
On the other hand, I have navigated the dark world that is online dating. I have given and received horrible dating advice from well-meaning friends (the blind leading the blind). I have tried to confess feelings of affection to a confusing more-than-friend, utterly screwed it up, somehow just ended up insulting him, got predictably rejected and then headed to a bar with my friends where I had a few drinks and declared I was done with romance. Spoilers- I just gave away literally the entire first half of Act II.
It’s that sort of relatability that makes “I Love You Because” such a gem. This is a show about relationships, and it does a fantastic job of showing the full spectrum in an intimate six person cast. Yes, there are romantic relationships, but there are also tender moments between friends, siblings and coworkers. There are no villains in this show, only flawed, lovable characters trying to figure things out for themselves. Along the way, they get themselves in such ridiculous situations that the audience will laugh themselves breathless.
Sometimes when I look at the hours spent at the theater and calculate them as billable hours, the lawyer in me objects to this allocation of resources and I want to cry. However, the theater has paid me back in so many other ways that the law never could. It has given me my best friends. It has given me joy, laughter and a sense of belonging in the community.
I consider myself truly lucky. I wake and get to go to a fulfilling legal career during the day and at night I get to leave my office to head to the Weathervane stage, a stage I’ve admired since childhood, to sing songs and bring incredible stories like this to life. “I Love You Because” is a show I could not pass up the chance to perform, and you should not pass up the chance to see.
‘I Love You Because’ takes place Feb. 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Weathervane Playhouse (1301 Weathervane Lane). Additional showtimes are Feb. 11 and 18 at 3:30 pm. and Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $26 and can be made by calling (330) 836-2626 or by going to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com. Due to some mature language and mature themes, this play is recommended for adults.