My earliest memories of performing come from when I was around 8 years old or so. I played the organ at the Michigan State Fair in an exhibition to do with Hammond organs or something. I think I played at least 1 or 2 numbers – Santa Lucia and something else – maybe Trumpet Voluntary. Backstage, an older man showed me how to push the lights up and down using a large piece of wood – this way they would all go up at the same rate. I don’t remember the audience. There must have been an audience however. My mother waited for me backstage and afterwards, I think we just went home. It wasn’t very far from where I was raised in Southfield, Michigan.
This auspicious beginning was followed up by my acting debut around the same time in a grade school play about a peddler. I played a pig. High school brought musicals and some straight plays and choir performances. By the time I got ready for college, there was no question about what I was going to do. I was going to be a performer – either a musician (Opera at University of Michigan) or acting (Northwestern University). I ended up going to Northwestern. The rest, as they say, is history.
I still don’t really know why I was so drawn to music and storytelling. True, my mother was a musician and her mother was a musician so it was in the blood. But my father was a lawyer. Could have just as easily gone that way. My sister was a jock and my brother ran track. Could have done that too. But no. Music and storytelling. The magic of make believe.