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The Mythos of The Theater Kid, Debunked

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Brigid Ambuul, Reporter

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If you’ve ever set foot on the CAHS campus, chances are you’ve come in contact with a theater kid.

As you stride down the hallway by the Drama Room, and your ears are suddenly filled with a crescendoing, boisterous rendition of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Alexander Hamilton,” you may be asking yourself —  what is this strange subspecies of humanity? How can their vocal cords produce such … volume?

Well, let me enlighten you.

In the past two years, I have managed to infiltrate the system, going so far in my research as to join the casts of not one but two shows.   

Taking extensive notes, I have learned the ins and outs of the theater world, and I am here to bring to the common man knowledge and understanding of this confounding subject. Here I provide a detailed analysis of certain “theater kid” stereotypes, and so promise to answer them with truth. Read and be enlightened.

Bursting into song.

Perhaps it is their tendency to live in worlds detached from reality, in which men and women burst into song when it would otherwise be necessary simply to speak, but theater kids seem incapable of going more than two minutes without singing the entirety of a Sondheim soundtrack. To be honest, it is often more challenging for a theater kid to respond to a question in normal, non-melodic speech than it is for them to respond with a sung-through musical reference. Pro tip, never, ever say “non-stop” around a theater kid. You’ll thank me later.

Enjoying the musical “Wicked.”

False. False. False. I can guarantee you this is not true for every theater kid. Don’t ask me how I got this information. Just trust me. We do not all love that 2000s-era-spawn-of-the-devil-green-faced-nasally-voiced-overplayed piece of theater scum. False.

“I can’t — I have rehearsal.”

This phrase, commonly heard when theater kids receive one of the few invitations they will ever receive to a non-theater-related social event, is a musical theater trademark. It’s not that we don’t want to go to your birthday party, we just have a five-hour Saturday rehearsal, in which we will be dancing the same number over 27 times. It’s nothing personal.  

They never work out.

OK, this might not be an actual stereotype, but I just want to bring to your attention the grueling conditioning that we actually have to do in order to prepare for a musical. Do you know how hard it is to simultaneously harmonize and do two solid minutes of fast-paced choreography? For the show I’m in right now, we start out nearly every rehearsal with a (heavily modified) cross-fit workout. This is the real(ish) deal. By the end of this show I’ll be able to break glass bottles on my quads. Or maybe, you know, just be able to get through the entirety of the “Toledo Surprise” dance break without passing out.

They don’t necessarily regard the real social hierarchy of the school.

They just kind of assume people are watching their every move and walk around in character. That character being themselves. Except more confident … True.

They’ll talk to anyone. Anyone.

Well, I mean, if by anyone you mean anyone who actually makes eye contact with them, sure! Otherwise, you’re sticking to your theater group like mic tape. And that stuff does not come off.

They’ll do anything for a lead role.

While theater kids will refrain from killing or otherwise seriously injuring a fellow auditioner to play a lead in a show, it would be naive to overlook the insidious implication of the all-too-common theater phrase “break a leg.” Does it mean what you really think it means? Who knows?

They’re superstitious.

TRUE. 10,000 percent true. To offer a theater kid an encouraging “good luck” before they go onstage is to give them an internal kick in the ribs. Trust me, I made that mistake early on. It’s “break a leg” or nothing. And don’t even get me started on saying the word “Macbeth” in a theater. They’ll pounce on you like a bunch of heavily-makeuped harpies.

They only listen to musicals.

False. Sometimes, to hype themselves up pre-audition, they’ll listen to something really angsty and punk, like “Rent.”

As soon as the dates of their show draw anywhere near to close, they’ll do anything to get in a shameless self-promotion. 

Listen, up until the dates of their shows draw close, these kids will keep the sales tactics to a minimum. However, if they’ve got a show in May and it’s March, you bet your bottom dollar these kids will become the world’s most musically inclined salesmen. If you don’t immediately respond with enthusiasm, prepare for the guilt tripping of a lifetime. Don’t believe me? Check any theater kid’s Instagram. Or Snapchat. Or Twitter. If they’re not posting videos of their friends making weird noises at rehearsal, they’re telling you to come to their show.

Perhaps I haven’t done the theater world the justice it deserves, and perhaps I haven’t completely demystified these confounding creatures for you. However, if you feel that you need more personal observation, you can see some real-life theater kids in their natural habit by visiting our school’s upcoming production of the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” running from April 12 to April 15 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Visit cahs.arts for ticket information, and be further enlightened.

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6 Comments

6 Responses to “The Mythos of The Theater Kid, Debunked”

  1. Danielle P on March 12th, 2018 12:33 pm

    Why is this the best thing I’ve read all day? Just laughing out loud in the library, no big deal.

  2. Danielle P on March 12th, 2018 12:35 pm

    Also, how dare you disrespect Idina Menzel. The musical is really quite POPULAR.

  3. Probably Jeremy Jordan on March 12th, 2018 12:35 pm

    ^totally agree

  4. Probably Christian Borle on March 12th, 2018 12:36 pm

    ^lol

  5. Probably Kristin Chenoweth on October 12th, 2018 1:25 pm

    Brigid, this is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever read and I know this comment is super late but you’re so right about that dance break in Toledo Surprise and I’m really embarrassed that all of these things apply to me. Thanks for writing this, it’s amazing

  6. Probably Ramin Karimloo on October 28th, 2018 11:06 pm

    Brigid, you can stop. Right now. I don’t need a friend that’s this talented at anything; my ego is too big for that.

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The Mythos of The Theater Kid, Debunked