Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 32 – Anxiety and Stage Fright – UGH


“Ooooooo, I’m so nervous” says Michelle in DREAMGIRLS, right before she is about to go on stage. Probably at some time or another we’ve all experienced anxiety and/or stage fright. I can clearly remember the last time I had stage fright – as if it were yesterday. The show was GREATER TUNA and I was one of two actors who play multiple characters in this hilarious comedy. This show was a dream come true for me and when the producer called to ask me if I would do the show, I was thrilled. Then, one night – during the long run – “Places” had just been called and I was standing backstage waiting to go on. Then it hit me. I felt completely overwhelmed by panic, couldn’t move, felt I couldn’t breathe. I turned to the actor next to me: “I can’t do this…I cannot go on.” He looked at me in complete disbelief and when he realized I was not kidding, he grabbed me by the collar and said “pull yourself together! You have a responsibility!” That physical jarring moment pulled me back to reality. I did the show, but was forever changed.

I have come to learn that there are some things we can do to get us through anxiety and stage fright. I’ll talk about those strategies some other time. For now, I hope we can just share the common experience of “pushing the panic button” and struggling to get through.

In the musical I am producing, NUMBERS N3RDS, Amber starts to have an anxiety attack before one of the sections of the National Math Challenge. At first her teammates don’t know what to do. But then someone starts to call out math equations – the very thing that brings them together. This turns into a bit of a chant, which morphs into a soft lullaby-like song as the teammates repeat the soothing words. Soon, the tension has been released and Amber can carry on. Here is the recording of the song In Defense of Math” – Elizabeth Lanza’s interpretation is enchanting….Enjoy…and relax.

Larry Little

Leave a Reply