Editor’s note: Ashley Berman appears in “It Shoulda Been You,” March 22 through April 15 at Weathervane Playhouse.
You want to see this show. If you like musicals, farces, love stories or dad jokes you will like this show. It is funny, sweet, touching and surprising. I cannot say enough about this talented cast, either. At the same time that they bring over-the-top comedy, they make you fall in love with the characters as human beings. It really is great, and I hope you love watching it as much as I have. Also, come say hi to me after the show. I will love it!
As I was moving my way through our 10-hour technical rehearsal, I kept racking my brain: “What does the reader of the Akronist want to hear from me?!” I’m sure you, the wonderful reader of this blog, would love to hear about the show but alas, anything I could tell you would ruin at least one plot twist (this show is filled with twists and turns). I would love to talk about the similarities between myself and Jenny Steinberg, the character I have the honor of playing, but again it would give too much away. So, I will tell you about me, and I hope it will be interesting.
“The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not” -Dot, “Sunday in the Park with George”
If you asked me today, “Who is Ashley Berman?” I would respond with the following words: scientist, educator, and feminist. In 2010, if you were to ask the same question, my response would be different: vocalist, performer and feminist (some things never change). My journey throughout this show has led me to search for the juncture at which I started to view myself in a fundamentally different way. Was there a choice I made that was the catalyst for everything else? Of course, the answer is no. And at the age of 29(!), I am also ready to admit that it wasn’t all my parents’ fault.
I did my last musical in 2010. I was a Musical Theater major at Bowling Green State University, and my performing life was going very well. I just knew I was going to be a Broadway star, and no one could tell me otherwise. Well, I guess that’s not true, because when our voice teacher said “if you can do anything besides theater, do that” to our class, I immediately thought I could be a scientist, and changed my major. Perhaps this was the first choice.
I’m a Behavior Analyst, so please excuse my analysis of my own behavior. We all make hundreds of choices a day, whether or not we realize that they are choices. All of our choices are made based on our previous learning history, meaning we want to access things that feel good and avoid things that made us feel bad.
I really love the lyric by Stephen Sondheim that titles this section of the blog ― “The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.” Making a choice is compulsive. We cannot remain stagnant in our lives. So as my life went on, I made choices that made life easier. This wasn’t hard, seeing as how the life of an actress is filled with poverty and rejection (thanks for the reminder, Mom), and therefore is pretty aversive.
So, as the story goes, I kept making choices and my life moved on. I changed my major, ended a long-term relationship, met my now husband, went to grad school and yadda yadda yadda…
And I’m not saying any of this to have you, the reader, feel sorry for me. I have an excellent life, truly and finally. I am outlining these choices to help explain to you how I ended up in this show. As I made these choices, I stopped finding a purpose for performing. Slowly but surely, I started to work 60 hours per week (gotta love the nonprofit sector) in order to pay off my mountain of student loans. And I got tired, and unsettled, and I found myself scheduling time to sing in the shower once every three months just to remind myself that I used to be someone who enjoyed singing.
Then, one day, I made another choice. A choice that was scary and costly. I decided to start voice lessons. And in those voice lessons, my teacher convinced me to make another choice: I didn’t need to wait to start auditioning for things, I needed to start immediately. And that choice was not mistaken.
So, reader, here we are. My first musical in eight years is this show that you are seeing. This show, for me, is so much bigger than a role or a cast. This show has brought back a part of me that I didn’t even know was missing:
Ashley Berman is a scientist, educator, performer and feminist.
The show contains adult themes. Tickets are $26, with special pricing for seniors, students, and groups of 12 or more, and can be obtained by calling the box office at 330-836-2626 or going to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com. Weathervane’s production of “It Shoulda Been You” is made possible by a donation from the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation.