Guantanamo Bay

I first started my blog (originally titled My European Memoirs) when I was studying abroad in Europe the summer before senior year of college. After a year-long hiatus, I started writing again with my first touring job right after college, changing the focus of the blog to tales of my travels as a touring actor. It now feels like my two blogs are combining as I’m now touring abroad! Life is so fun 🙂 Anyway, here I’ll attempt to document details of my summer beyond my usual social media posts, starting with week 1 – Guantanamo Bay!

One of the coolest things about going to GTMO was simply the fact that I was in Cuba. I mean, how many people have been to Cuba?! Because of that, though, the process of getting there was really interesting. We had to have special orders to get access to the naval base in Jacksonville, FL in order to fly from there to GTMO. We had to give our body weight plus carry-on weight to make sure the plane itself wasn’t overweight, which made me think we’d be on a tiny plane. However, I was shocked to find that the plane was fairly large, and we got to board via airplane steps on a runway, which always makes me feel like I’m doing something important. It was a short flight, so I was surprised when I was served a meal (the STRANGEST combination: chicken stir fry with rice, wheat roll, slice of cheddar cheese, butter, club crackers, potato salad, and a slice of cake LOL… can’t get over it).

Anyway, we landed on base then searched for our names on a sign. We didn’t see one, so we followed the crowd and boarded a bus to get to the ferry. After taking the ferry, turns out there had been someone waiting for us on the other side, so then we waited two hours for her to take the next ferry over. Oops. Luckily, someone else picked us up in the meantime and took us to the youth center.

The work week itself went really well. It was our first week as new tour partners, so it’s always a little interesting to navigate compromising how we both do things and finding a groove, but Josh is so easygoing, and we had no trouble at all. Our biggest surprise was only have 24 kids at the audition, so we had to get really creative about how to fill a full two hours of audition, when we actually cast the show in about 45 minutes. 

We had our typical Monday on Saturday, but then had Sunday off to do whatever our hearts desired. I got up to go to church, walked to the chapel and realized my morning brain had gotten the service time wrong by an HOUR, so I ran some errands, went back to my room, and walked back to church an hour later. I’m glad they say you can come as you are because I was a disgusting, sweaty mess.

After that, I decided to go to one of the several beaches on base. Josh didn’t go because he was recovering from a sunburn from our beach day in Jacksonville, so I embarked on my solo adventure day. I took the bus (which is a literal school bus that runs for free every half hour!), and then had a bit of a walk from the stop to the beach. As I was walking, a kind stranger offered to give me a ride. Normally, I would not accept rides from strangers, but Josh gave me a heads up that it’s the culture on base. He was so friendly, and I even saw him later in the week, and he asked what time the show was – I don’t know if he actually went, but maybe!

The beach was so small that after a few minutes of laying out, my towel was completely underwater from the tide, and I had to sit up on a rock to read. There were so many gorgeous rocks, a beautiful blue sky, and lots of people snorkeling. With almost no waves, I was able to just float in the water and recover from the suffocating heat. It was such a wonderful afternoon of escape, especially since my phone is reduced to camera/iPod without wifi.




Speaking of, trying to find my way back to the bus stop proved somewhat difficult because I forgot to pay close attention when I was in the car earlier. It was so funny because with it being a military base, I kept feeling like I was walking somewhere I shouldn’t be because I was surrounded by several barbed wire fences and really severe-looking buildings. Sure enough, though, a different kind stranger gave me a ride to the bus stop, probably after wondering what the heck this random girl was doing walking around on base.

The rest of the week was mostly work-centered. We had to get creative with such a small cast, but a perk of a group that small was we were able to really build rapport with them. One of my favorite moments of the week was one cast member brought a bluetooth speaker, and it turned into a spontaneous dance party on the stage during one of our lunch breaks. Another favorite was my rehearsal with the youngest group, the chameleons. There were only three, so I was able to shower each one with so much attention, and I think they all took a little piece of my heart with them – so, so, so sweet! Ah!

The night before the show, we decided to go to karaoke. One thing that was really cool about GTMO, that I’m finding is different on other bases, is that we pretty much had access to everything and could walk around anywhere because going off base was not an option. It’s kind of weird to now be restricted on other bases. Anyway, after singing one song, Josh became a celebrity with a table of people in the navy (#Josh2020), and we all became friends! I learned that one of them was Pa Munch in Wiz of the West (the show I just finished touring) when he was in 4th grade. Such a small world!

Show day was a little nerve-wracking with it being my first performance, but after dress rehearsal, the kids seemed ready, so I felt ready! The show went so well! The only hiccup was the lights turned off in the middle of the first scene. I wasn’t sure if I should stop, but I decided to go with old, “the show must go on,” and if Josh, as the director stopped the show, then that was fine. The kids were amazing! They didn’t panic at all and just kept on talking. Soon enough, the lights were back on, and we didn’t miss a beat.

The next day we repeated the process of bus to ferry to bus to airport. We got there crazy early to make sure our 11 bags made it on the plane, so were left with an uncomfortable number of hours at the airport. Luckily, we discovered the kids’ playroom that happened to have some of our cast members. I can think of no better way to spend a few hours than drinking imaginary tea with precious littles.

And that’s a wrap on GTMO! I loved the iguanas. I loved the strong sense of community. I loved hearing Jamaican accents. I loved free buses. I loved being paid to experience all of this.

Stay tuned for tales from Italy!





P.S. I’ll edit this later and add it some pictures, but the wifi this week is dismal, so loading pictures is not happening.


The Little Red (or White) Truck

Today will be my final domestic drive day for Missoula Children’s  Theatre. Though I’m continuing with the company through the summer with an international fly tour, in a way, it feels like my time is ending now.

The truck is such a prominent symbol of this company. We are a moving advertisement;  people often start conversations with us based on our truck. There is also such excitement when kids see the truck roll into town, signaling another Missoula week.

For those of us in the cab of the trucks, however, it’s much more than just a symbol of this organization and a way to get around. With the scenery ever-changing, the truck is our constant. It is the safe place where we can vent about the day. We can sing at the top of our lungs (sometimes to songs that aren’t appropriate for children). We drink an obscene amount of coffee! We share laughs about something funny a kid did that we had to stifle during rehearsal. We share SO MUCH MUSIC. We share embarrassing moments, childhood stories, and hopes and wonderings for the future. Sometimes we sit in silence because the kids just took it out of us that day. No matter the mood, the truck is where we can truly be ourselves without having to feel put together.

I started with this company in January of 2017, and since then have driven thousands of miles. My driving experiences have ranged from New York City (yes, I actually drove through the city proper… not around it. I somehow survived) to dirt/gravel roads in Saskatchewan to snowy mountain ranges. Speaking of snow, we got stuck in snow trying to go up a hill to our hotel! I’ve crossed the US/Canadian border a number of times.  I also was thrilled to have the truck parked in my Massachusetts family’s driveway, visit my brother in Milwaukee, and stop at my parents’ house in Indiana!



My first truck, Mexican Goulash, became friends with my car, Lola


The result of driving in Saskatchewan

There’s that clichĂ© about it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Usually that’s a metaphor for life, but it’s quite literal on Sunday drive days. It’s always exciting to go to a new town, but what’s so fun is to see what this beautiful country has to offer along the way. Some of my favorite pit stops have been Mount Rushmore, Carhenge, and countless parks and forests with amazing hikes!  And of course, often the adventure is simply the drive itself — this country we live in is breathtaking!

So, to my dear trucks, thank you for the memories. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for having an aux port. Thank you for not judging my dance moves. Thank you for humbling me by forcing me to crank windows, manually lock/unlock, and not rely on cruise control (jk… no thank you to that one). Thank you for teaching me that I should never have a large vehicle because parking is a nightmare. Most importantly, thank you for being the face of a company I hold so dear. It has been an honor to drive a little red (white) truck!

Mexican Goulash 1/17-5/17 • Dusty 5/17-12/17 • Galinda Lattice 1/18-5/18



Every residency I’ve driven to so far. Now to see what this flying thing is about!!! 🙂

…And I’m Dooneese

Recently, one of my favorite SNL sketches came up in conversation with my tour partner, and I was aghast to learn that he had never seen it. As I re-watched it with him (because I’m a good friend who makes sure important videos are viewed), I laughed out loud realizing I AM DOONEESE.

In case you’re like my poor, uninformed partner, please educate yourself below. I’ll wait.

With My By Myself

Anyway, now that you’re caught up… I know that the topic of being in your 20s and seeing all of your friends find romance is old news, but wow, it’s real. And this isn’t just a post about being single. A similar feeling of “everyone is doing this thing, and then I’m here singing to myself” applies to many areas of my life. For example:

In my apartment

In my condo

In my house

In my…..I’m homeless (blows kiss)

I see so many people my age or younger doing all of these “adult” things, and this weird/wonderful life path I’ve chosen often has me feeling like I’m anything but an adult. It’s very hard to convince yourself you’re an adult while sleeping in a loft bed surrounded by dolls and stuffed animals.

I guess I’ve always thought of adulthood as this very specific thing, or rather, set of things. Moving out of your parents’ house (I mean I don’t really live there, but my room is perfectly preserved). Marriage/a serious relationship. A job without a foreseeable end date. A house/apartment/kitchen. Bills to pay.

Thus far, my adult life hasn’t included those things, so I often joke about not being a real adult. (The number of pompoms in my wardrobe also contributes to my mindset.) I turned 24 this week, and I made another joke to my tour partner about not being a real adult, and he looked and me and said, “But, you know, you ARE an adult.”

Oh yeah.

When I was young and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be ordinary. Here I am, living a life that is pretty far from ordinary, and it makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. How silly! As for the things that I’m missing out on, I feel like I need to learn from pre-teen Samantha who was so eager to hit puberty because I wanted to be a real woman. My mom promised me that I would regret my wishes immediately. Similarly, as much as I will enjoy having my own place when I’m not on the road anymore, not paying rent/electricity/whatever people pay for will be missed.

When I did my taxes this year, I texted my dad because I wasn’t sure if I’m considered a dependent on my parents’ taxes. He laughed and said they would not be claiming me. It felt weird and almost dishonest, though, to claim myself as independent because I have virtually no expenses, except food and fun! Also, wow, when I leave the road my living standards are really going to have to drop because living in a variety of really nice homes has become the norm. On top of that, we’re often fed! Should I have claimed myself dependent on all of the wonderful hosts I have stayed with? I truly feel dependent.

Regardless, I am an adult. My adulthood is different than most people who are #adulting, but I’m figuring out that ready or not, adulthood happens as you age, and you get to define what that means.

….And sometimes I sleep in until noon, wear pajamas most of the day, and eat cupcakes for dinner instead of dessert. Is that baaaaad? Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo……



P.S. Here are a few of my favorite moments of adulthood for your enjoyment. You have to click links because I don’t care enough to pay for an upgraded plan that lets me embed videos.


Am I Successful Yet?

“We’ll say we knew her when….”

“Will we see you on a Broadway stage some day?”

“You majored in musical theatre? Do you want to be an actor?”

These words, or similar sentiments, I hear quite frequently. It makes sense. First of all, I’m constantly meeting new people, so small talk often includes asking about future plans. Second, it seems encouraging to imply that my craft will one day take me to the highest heights of the big Broadway stage or in a major motion picture. It’s a compliment, right?

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Uh oh… I may have said this or something like it at some point,” don’t worry. I’m not offended because I know these all came from a good place. However, I’ve been meditating on this for a while and have some thoughts to share.

Yes, it makes sense to be curious about the next step in my life. Hey, I’m curious too! I’m making this up as I go along! But, jumping ahead to picturing my name in flashing lights troubles me. To me, it’s the same as assuming all teachers want to be principals or superintendents; all employees of the company want to be CEOs; all small-town farmers want to upgrade to be massive producers.

But, Samantha, why wouldn’t we assume that? After all, aren’t all of those people more successful? Perhaps…. Financially? Yes. More power? Yes. In the actor example, fame? Obviously. Yet, with each level of “success” there are more sacrifices that must be made. And when does the road to “success” end? Do people reach a plateau when they’re successful and are fully content with life? Doubtful.

I’m not saying goals are bad or ambition is the enemy, but I’m also not sure if fame and fortune are part of my goal. After all, we celebrate celebrity couples that manage to stay together because it’s such a rarity. Family is so important to me, so I don’t know if a lifestyle that makes it that difficult to maintain a marriage is actually that desirable.

As to the question about whether I want to be an actor, my answer is that I already am. I am working for a professional theatre company where I act, direct, stage manage, teach, and get to work with so many wonderful kids. When I made the decision at age 17 that I wanted to major in musical theatre, I did not have working for a touring children’s theatre in mind. Of course, because I had no idea this wonderful job even existed! And yes, eventually I will do something else. A person can only tour for so long before needing to have a more permanent home, but even then, I am not going to place my identity in how “successful” I am as an actor.

John Mayer, a successful songwriter, pondered success in “Something’s Missing:”

Friends (Check)

Money (Check)

A well slept (Check)

Opposite sex (Check)

Guitar (Check)

Microphone (Check)

Messages waiting on me when I come home (Check)

I’m going to be honest, I don’t have as many “checks” as my friend, John. And what is “a well slept”…? Still, any time I listen to this song, and he keeps repeating that something is missing, it just seems so obvious to me. God.

When I think about my life in terms of my career, it is easy to get overwhelmed. There is  a lot of unknown. Actors live contract to contract. There’s a lot of rejection. There’s a pressure to be successful.

Here’s the thing, though. My identity is not in my career. Or even in my passion for acting. Instead, I identify first as a Christian, and suddenly life is as it should be.

Here’s my checklist:

God (Check)

Family (Check)

Friends (Check)

Enough money to live (Check)

A job I love (Check)

Feeling safe and secure (Check)

Happy (Check)

Success (That’s subjective)

Being a Christian, sometimes I wrestle with what it means to work as an actor. There seems to be this pressure to put your career above everything. And at the surface, so much of it seems quite self-absorbed, especially since I have to carry around an 8×10 picture of my face.

A different songwriter friend, Jon McLaughlin, sings, “I wonder how it feels to be famous/ but wonder is as far as I will go/ ’cause I’d probably lose myself in all the pictures/ and end up being someone I don’t know”

This post isn’t to say that I’m giving up on a dream or that I’m settling. On the contrary, it’s to say that I am an actor. I’m going to find jobs that let me be an actor. I don’t know where that will lead. Maybe I will be famous if that’s part of God’s plan. But maybe my biggest fans will be my future children. I don’t know them yet, but I already know that they’re more important than my career.

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)



Post Cards

I love mail. I was a ’90s child, so I associate mail with Steve and Blue singing the mail song on Blue’s Clues (not Joe… forget him). A more noteworthy reason (pun intended), is because of napkins. One day when I was little, I ventured over to the Fellowship Hall as a few church ladies were putting up tables and place settings for an after-church luncheon. They were stewing over the big decision of how they wanted to fold the napkins. Samantha to the rescue! I so cleverly suggested that they fold them in triangles (so original, I know). Later, I received a handwritten note in the mail from one of the ladies, thanking me for the suggestion and for helping fold the napkins. Her note required much more thought and effort than my simple suggestion, and the lesson of how that made me feel has stuck with me.

I have to also credit my mom for furthering my love of mail. Whenever I went to overnight camp, even if it was just a week, she would send me a letter every day. Then in college, I must’ve gotten something in the mail every other week. Sometimes I would chuckle because she’d spend $4 to send me a package of M&Ms when I could’ve easily bought myself M&Ms. But practicality is not the point of mail. Another time I was disappointed to open up a large envelope to find underwear that I had accidentally left in the laundry on a recent visit home. It doesn’t matter what she sent; it was thrilling seeing something in my little box and knowing whatever was there had been in my mom’s hand just a few days before (or more if USPS was slacking).

When I started my first tour last summer, I decided that it would be fun to send post cards. After all, not many people get to travel to a new town every week. Post cards normally are associated with vacations or particularly touristy areas, rather than towns with a population of less than a thousand. So, I quickly learned that my writing project is also a weekly treasure hunt.

There have been a couple weeks where the hosting theatre has post cards, so that is an early victory. However, most weeks I devote an hour or so to wander through locally owned shops for a 3.5×5 piece of paper. It’s actually been a cool thing because what started as a way to connect with friends and family has led to several wonderful conversations with shop owners, parents of cast members, and other townspeople I run into while on the hunt. Yay, human interaction!

Is my hunt successful? Usually, yes! The goal is to have it say the name of the town and state. Sometimes, however, I have to write in the town name if I can’t find a town-specific one. You’d be surprised at how many small towns have them, though. I think the hardest ones to find are suburbs to bigger cities because it seems like they identify more with the larger city than claiming their own town. Anyway, I can count on one hand the number of weeks I haven’t sent anything.

Each week, seven post cards go out to some of my closest family and friends. With modern communication, people could argue that mail is unnecessary, but sometimes I feel more connected through a handwritten note than using FaceTime. I like that people have something tangible from me since I can’t see them in person.

If you could use some happy mail, please let me know. I would love to send you a post card! (But not every week because more than 7 per week would start to get excessive!)




P.S. Real life worry: I write almost exclusively in cursive, and apparently they don’t teach that anymore. I like to think that all of these things I write could be held on to read years later, but I think those years may be more numbered than I’d like to admit. I’ll be teaching my kids cursive….

Me Party

A few weeks ago, in preparation for singing at my brother’s wedding, I rehearsed at home with my favorite accompanist, my mom. What started as a necessary task on the to-do list turned into a full-blown song session including songs from my repertoire dating back to the song I sang for my first musical audition in 3rd grade. (Side note: The audition was for The Sound of Music. I sang a song from The Tap Dance Kid that the angsty, overweight, but starving for attention, African American character sings. I was not cast.) It was such a joy to return to the comforting musical bubble my mom and I share, without the stress of an upcoming audition, jury, or other pressing vocal event. One of the songs I pulled out of the stack was, “Me Party,” from the 2011 Muppets Movie. Ironically, it’s a duet with Amy Adams’ character and Miss Piggy, but, in true “me party” fashion, I sang it solo.

As I was squinting to read the lyrics on the page (the piano light situation is not ideal), I laughed to myself thinking about how many “me parties” I attend regularly. Of course, the difference between what Mary and Miss Piggy have going versus my life is they have men/frogs who just happen to not be around. My “me party” is a more regular affair.

Tonight I was a party of one at a small-town restaurant where the owner’s face is on the cover, the decorations look like they came from an antique store, and there are columns wrapped in fake vines. I sat down and took my time with the menu, not having to look and hold a conversation simultaneously. I ordered, then dove into reading my latest Kindle book. I savored my meal, my book, and I even conversed a bit with the waitress. Then, I walked back to my hotel room, which is the space where I sleep, shower, eat most meals, watch Netflix, do yoga, talk to my mom, read, etc….

This job is tricky because you definitely have to be a people person. We are in a new town each week with a different group of kiddos to meet and direct. We work with the contacts who bring us in. We often live with a homestay. Sometimes, we’re invited for dinner with a family of someone in the cast. Yet, despite all of that, there is a ton of alone time, so you need to enjoy people, but not be dependent on having them around. Otherwise, it would be very very lonely.

Of course, I have a tour partner, but working together, driving together, and spending all of our free time together would just be too much. Alone time is necessary for a healthy working relationship. That being said, last night we enjoyed a post-show dinner together at a restaurant bar & grill, recommended by several cast members. “It’s a bar!” whispered a child, encouraging us to go.

This post is not to invoke pity, by any means. Sure, sometimes life on the road is a little lonely. I miss my friends and family. I miss hanging out with people my age (once again, minus my tour partner). But I know that these days of hanging out with myself won’t last forever. One day, I’ll probably have a family of my own with a busy schedule full of my kids’ activities, and then I’ll be wishing I had a hotel room to myself to do whatever I want for hours on end. So, I do my best to celebrate each “me party” I throw myself. After all, as the song says, “I’m such good company!”

Now, it’s your turn! Throw yourself a “me” party! Take yourself to dinner. Go to a movie. Go to a museum. Explore a new shop in town. It’s fun! You might be surprised how much you like spending time with yourself!


P.S. In case, you haven’t heard the song, please watch. I wish singing desserts would join me at my me parties.



Exercise on the Road

I consider myself athletically challenged. My two brothers, Jacob and Will are not. In fact, they are both incredibly athletic and played/will play on their college baseball teams. Here’s a visual:


Anyway, I never minded that much. I always just laughed it off and said that I balanced the family out by being the artsy one. The performer. The pageant girl. Little did I know, my two-year pageant career is what led to the most embarrassing “active” moment of my life.

Because I competed in the teen division, we were saved from walking on stage in a bikini and heels. Rather, we had an activewear competition where we strutted around in little exercise outfits and did a couple “flexing” poses (sometimes accompanied by a duck face), and then peppily exited the stage.

The first year was fine. I mean I knew I was a total poser, but I was pretty sure that the judges didn’t. Year two at Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen, the week of the pageant we were informed that instead of the usual pep and pose deal, we were going to do an activewear routine. I was not prepared for that. They taught it to us, and it wasn’t overly difficult, but when my moment came… well…

activewear gif.gif

Needless to say, I was not crowed Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen. Thankfully, I had already ordered the DVD to treasure this moment forever. When I watched it for the first time, I had actual tears because it was so funny. I knew it hadn’t gone well, but I didn’t realize exactly how bad it was. I mean, how could I not look normal when I’m running in place?!

Due to my lack of athletic ability, I had never been into exercising. I was always so busy with all of my other activities. Plus, I was always fairly thin naturally (thanks for those genes, mother).

College. I realized that exercise is a thing that people do. It’s not just for athletes. Also, my metabolism was changing (rude)! Plus, you’re paying for that rec center as part of your tuition, so you might as well take advantage of it. I started to go on occasion, but felt very lost in a sea of people who looked like they knew what they were doing. Don’t get me wrong, I had taken gym class, so I knew how to use machines, but there’s a difference between knowing how to use a machine and knowing how to create a workout that isn’t just 15 reps on each machine. So, I’d hop on that elliptical and run for awhile.

One time I was adventurous and decided to go to a zumba class at the rec when they were all free the first week of classes. Unfortunately, I came directly from another class and was a little bit late, so I had to stand in the back of the class. Normally, that would be a good thing, but because half of the gym was the zumba class and the other half was full of guys playing pick-up basketball, I wasn’t too thrilled. Things were going okay, and then the zumba instructor said, “Who’s ready to tweeeerrrkkk?!”

I was not ready.

Sometimes, people are confused about my ethnicity because I tan really easily and my curls are confusing. Those people should see me attempt to twerk. I digress.

“Samantha, this post is called Exercise on the Road. Why are you telling us stories about your past?”

Right, right. I’ll get on with it.

With this job, I have a lot of free time, so I can no longer use my favorite excuse for not working out, which is that I’m too busy. I like to find different ways to be active. First, the job itself is pretty active with directing on my feet for four hours a day. We also put up the set and get some arm workouts carrying the heavy bags. Sometimes, though, I try to convince myself that the job itself is an actual workout. It is not.

I’m a big fan of finding places to walk/hike. A few weeks ago I walked for almost five miles (the point of the walk was to find a good cup of coffee, but nevertheless, I walked!). Sometimes, we have access to a fitness center. I always act like that is something that really excites me, but then I get there and I kind of go back to my activewear moment. People surely know that I do not belong at a gym.

I have discovered, however, that I like working out in my hotel room. Alone. No one is there. I pull up some cardio dance youtube videos and look like an absolute fool, but it doesn’t matter because I am the only one there. I am glad that I do not have these workouts captured on DVD. I’m also slowly figuring out yoga. There are also lots of cool exercise apps! It’s nice to be told what to do, so that I don’t quit the moment I start feeling tired (aka, me on an elliptical).

This is all really great, but on weeks where I am staying in someone’s home, rather than a hotel, it gets awkward again. Why is working out so awkward? I mean, it’s something that everyone does (or should do), but wow, I do not like doing it in front of other people. I don’t even really like working out in someone’s basement and them knowing that that’s what I’m doing.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that exercise on the road can be hard, but not much harder than exercise in everyday life. I just need to get over myself. Hopefully sharing these stories will get me one step closer to not being awkward. Or not.

Byeee Gif.gif


Kids Say the Darndest Things…

This week I’ll set sail to Treasure Island for the last time. Time is a funny thing. On one hand, it seems like forever since I was in Missoula ringing in the new year; yet, these past five months have flown by. As I reflect on this first tour, I am flooded with memories of heartwarming moments, and, of course, some hilarious gems. Please enjoy these anecdotes/quotes from children across America.

One week there was a little boy who, for some reason, was convinced he was being cut. He ran to his mom, so my tour partner, Jacob, had to convince him to come back to the circle and finish the audition. He was cast as a seagull (the youngest kids who are adorable and lead the way to Treasure Island), and after we dismissed from the audition, he came up to Jacob and said, “My whole life I have dreamed of being a seagull.” His WHOLE life. Of SEVEN YEARS! There you go, ladies and gentlemen, Jacob and I make life-long dreams come true.

The seagulls don’t have rehearsal until Wednesday, but he was around the theatre the next day because he had a sibling at rehearsal. Before rehearsal began, he walked up to the stage and said, “One more day,” as if he were preparing for battle.

Finally, Wednesday rolled around, and he was a shining star. I put him as the line leader, and before each seagull scene, I would remind him what to do. He would nod, and summon all of the focus a 7-year-old can muster, and prepare for the cue.

In between the two performances on Saturday, we were touching up makeup. During this time, we sometimes like to give the kids an opportunity to give compliments to their fellow cast. It was almost time for the show, so we needed to end compliment hour to give instructions for what to do after the show. All of a sudden, this boy had these giant crocodile tears. I took him out into the hall to figure out the issue, and he informed me, between sobs, that he didn’t get the chance to compliment the cast (even though he definitely had already said something). Being a softie, I told him after Jacob’s announcements, we might have time for one more compliment. It basically turned into an Oscar’s speech of him thanking everyone for making this the best week ever, and everyone was so amazing, and he loved everything, etc, etc, etc. Oh, that boy. I wish he had a social media I could follow so I can see him turn into a star.

Another week during compliment time, the kids once again turned it into their Oscar “thank you’s,” rather than saying, “Sally did a great job!” One girl raised her hand and said, “I’d just like to thank the audience. Without the audience, we would have no one to perform for. Really, they’re the reason we’re doing this. As long as we make people happy, we’ve done our jobs.” Or something like that. I think she went on several more sentences. We didn’t have outro music available.

In addition to teaching Treasure Island, we get to do workshops with kids who may or may not be in the cast. We do various exercises about different elements of acting. One of the exercises involves select students standing in front of the group, answering questions about their characters. The catch is that they don’t know who their characters are, but they figure it out based on the questions asked.

One student was Batman, and a student asked, “Why are you black?”

Another time a student was Olaf from Frozen. “How does it feel having two balls instead of three?” I tried to rephrase the question, saying something about proportions. Whatever I said, I didn’t make it much better. We tried to move the exercise along, but not before a kid managed to blurt out, “I thought he was talking about testicles!” Great… thanks for that.

A different exercise involves one of us being the ruler of a kingdom. The students are the subjects and must make bold choices to earn our favor. They are then either welcomed to stand next to the throne or dismissed. One time I was the ruler for a workshop with a high school theatre class. Someone came up and sang really high, and I dismissed them. Jacob informed the court that the Great Samantha prefers lower voices. A teenage boy walked up and said, “Oh, Great Samantha, I heard you like sultry voices.” He then got down on one knee and PROPOSED! He didn’t earn my favor because I didn’t want a lawsuit. However, I wish I could’ve rewarded him for his bold choice, which was the point of the exercise. 

One dress rehearsal when Jacob was Long John Silver and I was the director, Jacob had his costume on and I was wearing my denim jumpsuit. The kids were excited to see Jacob’s costume, knowing they would soon be getting their costumes as well. They also liked my costume, but they couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be. A nurse? They simply couldn’t understand that it was a real-life outfit.


Said jumpsuit, for your reference. 

“Are you married?”


“Are you engaged?”


“Do you have a boyfriend?”


“That’s really sad…..”

(These children should make friends with my grandma)

“Do you two have kids?”

“Haha, no. We wouldn’t be very good parents if we had children since we’re in a different town every week.”

“Just get a babysitter!”

“No, I don’t think that would work out very well.”

Cue a different child:

“So, what do you do with your kids?”

On a Thursday:

“What’s your name? I remember that it was really long on your name tag….”

“Okay, you two sit right there so I can take a picture of you. Okay, now we need to take a selfie.” – A 5-year-old with her iPhone

This story isn’t exactly funny, but it was one of those moments that didn’t feel like real life because everything was spiraling out of control. I was teaching the group of seagulls, and all of a sudden one of them had a nose bleed. I asked the assistant director to watch the kids while I ran to get our contact for the week. When I returned with the contact, it looked like a crime scene. The child had wiped the blood everywhere, and it had spread to the floor. The contact quickly rushed the child out, and I was trying to move the rest of the kids away from the blood. What’s that sound? Oh, a child just threw up at the sight of blood. Now, there was a blood pile, and a puke pile, and a group of frightened children. I moved them out into the hallway to try to salvage any chance of saving the rehearsal. Oh my word.

In order to teach a show in a week, Jacob and I teach separate groups and then piece the show together later. One day, we reconvened for announcements before dismissal. I asked Jacob’s group how their rehearsal went. “Great! Fun! I loved it!” etc. etc.

Jacob asked my group.


In case this blog post has you feeling like that poor group of over-worked children, I will wrap it up by saying that I will be boring kids for the next twelve months. That’s right, Treasure Island is coming to an end, but I will soon be traveling to infinity and beyond with Gulliver’s Travels… in Space! Forever grateful for the greatest job in the world.

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…

… but let’s spend a very concentrated amount of time with each other, and then see you never, maybe.

On the road again. I began a contract with Missoula Children’s Theatre on December 27 (and am just now getting around to writing a blog post). Anyway, I rang in the new year with what an outsider would call a complete group of strangers – the other tour actor/directors training for the job. Yet, as we were all squished into a hotel room hugging each other and wishing one another a Happy New Year, there was so much love in the room.

One of the people I hugged New Year’s Eve was my roommate, Christina, a fellow tour actor/director. She and I instantly clicked. We would finish a full 10-hour day of work and then, though we were exhausted, would stay up late chatting, crying, and giggling — like we were young girls back in the days of sleepovers. Finally, one of us would cut the other off in the middle of conversation and say, “It’s time for bed!” We would go to sleep maybe ten minutes later. Maybe. Actors have a gift for bonding quickly because we love to study people (and talk about ourselves). It’s also a necessity because we don’t have the luxury of being with our family or long-time friends, so we have the responsibility of filling that void for one another.

Training ended and I drove to Alabama, and she and her tour partner went to California. We’ll see each other when we return our trucks to Missoula, but after that, who knows? (Just kidding, Christina. We’re going to be next door neighbors and I’ll knock on your door when I need to borrow a cup of flour.)

Speaking of the end of training, that marked the beginning of the 32-hour drive from Montana to Alabama. Just me, my tour partner, Jacob, and our truck. Our friendship began during training, and as we drove across the country together, opening up about our lives. I was struck that in just two weeks I perhaps knew him more than most would learn about a co-worker in a year. Maybe I’m wrong, as I don’t have much experience with more traditional jobs, but I’m guessing that normal everyday banter doesn’t include your favorite music, guilty pleasure snack, or details about your childhood.

For those of you unfamiliar with my job, my tour partner and I travel to a different town each week and teach a different group of students Treasure Island. It may sound mundane to do the same show week after week. However, each week a new group of students transforms it to be something entirely unique. As I say goodbye to the students when they turn in their costumes after the final show, it means so much to think how far they have come in just a week. Sometimes I look at some of the younger kids and wonder what they will be like as teenagers or young adults. Many of them may not remember much of the week, but for some it may spark a passion. Either way, I feel lucky to have been involved in what is hopefully a fun, enlightening experience for them.

When we’re in each town, we either stay in a hotel or a family opens up their home to us for the week. My own family has hosted three different exchange students, several baseball players, and then there are my brothers’ friends, who always seem to end up on our basement floor. From my experience hosting, I know the importance of host-guest interaction. So as a guest, I don’t want to just go to my room; rather, I want to take advantage of this small window as life intersects with these people. So far, we’ve stayed at just two different homes, but both experiences have had a deep impact, resulting in a nearly choked up goodbye.

Tour life could be very lonely. There’s only one person that you consistently see, and the majority of the people you interact with are under 15. Yet, by allowing myself to be vulnerable and really connect with these people that I’ll likely never see again, I don’t feel alone. Goodbyes are hard, and sometimes it’s tempting to not open yourself up to such short-term relationships. Why have a conversation with someone who’s basically a stranger and is only in your life for a week when you could instead call home? Maintaining existing relationships is important, but so is living in the present. The heart has no boundaries – it continues to expand with each new connection. I am so lucky that every week I meet so many beautiful, colorful, interesting souls. And, who knows? Maybe somehow the universe will find a way for our paths to cross again.