We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofLily Temkin

Aladdin, my first ever Broadway musical. It was 2014. At the time I was around 7 years old in second grade. Like many other little girls, I loved Disney princesses and my favorite was Jasmine. I remember walking into that theatre and seeing all of the little stands with souvenirs, walking even further down the hallway getting my ticket scanned and having someone show us the way to our seats. The theatre smelled like fresh popcorn and paint. The orchestra was practicing, but all I could hear was the chatter going through the aisles. I had always loved music and dancing, so being able to see people pursuing that passion made me want to get up on the stage and perform with them even more. 

It was spectacular. The most memorable part for me was when I saw all of the magic happening when the genie granted Aladdin's wishes. After the show, I got to view everything up close. We were taken backstage and I met the Genie. I thought that he was real, so when he handed me his magic lamp the smile on my face grew and I felt like I was part of the performance. I felt so honored and so special. No matter how special that moment was, however, all I could think of was me dropping the lamp. I held on to it with all of my might. He probably could tell I was a little nervous, so he got up next to me and made sure I was okay. Looking back at that moment, I realize how remarkable that experience was.

I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to wait for two more years because that was when you could start performing in theatre camp at our local Jewish Community Center (JCC). Every year they would put on two performances. You would start at summer theatre camp going into third grade, and then you could participate in every performance up to eighth grade. Since I was only in first grade, the wait felt like a hundred years to me.

In the meantime, I continued to sing and to participate in dance class, and if they were lucky enough, I would put on mini performances for my family. My favorite performance would have to be when I created a dance to “Dancing Queen” from Mamma Mia. I remember spending all day working on it and after dinner I got everyone in the family room and performed. I loved performing for my family because there was no pressure and the reaction was always positive.

When my time finally came to audition for the JCC, I was so excited. What I did not realize was that the scariest part was yet to come.

Auditions. The most terrifying thing that any actor has to encounter. This is the moment where you put yourself out for others to judge. Little seven year old me thought that everything would go smoothly. I practiced so much, but when I got onto that stage and had to perform in front of everyone, I froze. I saw everyone looking at me and I couldn’t help but think what was gonna happen when I started singing. But then I looked over at my sister Alyssa and I saw her giving me a big thumbs up and a huge smile. I started to hear the piano sing, and along with it, so did I. 

Since that moment, I have kept on doing theatre. Whether it is at school or at theatre camp, that feeling of the curtains opening and seeing all of the smiling faces and being able to point out where my family is sitting gives me encouragement to go on.  But most importantly, I know that I will get to do it all over again the next night.

© Lily Temkin. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.