How Musical Theatre Changed Me

Seeing Yourself Through The Acts

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By Duygu Etikan

Every September I sign-up for a new idea and learn new skills. I am used to going back to school at this time of the year. The project qualifies if it lasts at least one month because that way something about me changes throughout the process of “practice and learn”. It is about getting out of my comfort zone, showing up for something new, and letting it transform me! I do this because I signed-up for the role of “Explorer” in my life 🙂

This year it is musical theatre. I heard about After Work Theatre from a few friends who worked with them before and I also saw a few shows that they presented in the last couple years. Since they know that I love dancing, my friends strongly encouraged me to join AWT this year because they were doing “Footloose”! With a big smile on my face and the excitement of a child who has seen other children to play with for the first time, I signed-up.

I fell in love with musical theatre when I saw Grease when I was in high school. My favorite was “Rent” and I learned the lyrics for the entire show and sang for weeks in 2007. Then I got to see Rent for free in New York in 2008! I was drawn to musical theatre partly because growing up I always danced and sang whenever I was by myself at home and I dreamed about being on stage. Now as a grown up I realize that dancing and singing are great medicines, like meditating. I feel a sense of contentment and release when I do these things.

What have I learned and what changed about me since I joined AWT? I realized that although I knew how to work on projects on my own, team-work has been a bit of a challenge to me. I also was a good starter of new projects however, I would stay 2 steps back when it came to working with others in the areas that I needed support in for the project to move ahead. The best part of being an explorer is that you get to learn more about yourself good and bad, and at the end you are left with decision making on “will I stay this way or will I change?” Speaking of learning, new skills are about letting go of the way you are used to doing things. Being a listener, observer, and a guide/teacher are very individual experiences and are so subjective. But when it comes to working with others in a project like musical theatre, you need to find ways to work in harmony so that the job gets done.

Since I joined AWT I had to communicate about things that involved asking for support to make progress in learning a choreography or a song. These were somewhat humbling too because I was used to teaching myself new skills when I wanted. Knowing where to start when you have an idea about something for yourself is different then teaming up with other people to put together a mutual work. Thanks to the internet we can teach ourselves new skills, but, working with other people isn’t the same thing in many ways. There are feelings involved when you are face to face, or side-by side with someone else. This reveals a lot about our self perception. Teamwork was my challenge, and I realized that the main reason why I needed to experience musical theatre was to learn this. I think I am getting better at it 🙂 thanks to the whole AWT team!

There is no cycle that leaves us unchanged. Whether it is a challenge that you pick or somehow it was brought to you, look for what’s in it for you. Ask yourself “Why am I in this?” even if you think you know it. Find out about how it makes you feel. Because when you open your perspective to see something new and different you get a chance to feel and be different.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you would like to see me on “FOOTLOOSE” and get your heartrate up and dance on your seat please visit Remember to choose the cast that I am in which is Kevin BACON ‘n’ Eggs since there is 2 casts. The first show is on Saturday, November 11th! 

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