The ending of something sweet is always bitter. As The Full Monty comes to a close at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, I take time to reflect being part of this wonderful show. This was definitely a show to remember for so many reasons, the biggest reason is I’ve never been in a show where actors get naked on stage every night! If you’re familiar with the story of The Full Monty, then you know how funny it can be, but to those who don’t… it can be rather jaw dropping. That was the most enjoyable part for me as a cast member, watching people experience The Full Monty every night.
I turned 25 this month. And what a crazy 25 years it’s been. 25 years made up of days I thought my world was ending to the days so good I didn’t want them to end. Years of rough patches and loss. Years of losing loved ones, learning the harsh truth of outliving people at just the age of 25. Together, those difficult years mixed with years of success and immense happiness have led me to where and who I am today.
December has certainly been an interesting month in Ilana-land. Though I’ve yet to firmly answer the broader question of “what I’m doing with my life” since moving back from Maryland, at least in terms of that horrible capitalistic necessity of employment, things in that realm do seem as they might be moving in quite an interesting direction, and I’m surprised but satisfied with how busy I’ve managed to keep myself in-between. In fact, between job applications, It’s A Wonderful Life and other New City Players miscellanea, and the rush of theatre openings that saturated the first half of the month, I feel as if it’s only been in conjunction with the holiday that I’ve been able to take a few days off-from-it-all to breathe!!
This year has come full circle for me as I am ending 2022 where it started. This time last year, I got my dream role of “Sandy” in Grease with MNM Theater Company at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. Fast forward to 2023, I am in the middle of rehearsals for The Full Monty at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. Same venue… different show… different year… still doing what I love!
I thought it would be fun to look back at all of my theater achievements in 2022 and write down my hopes for the new year.
It’s hard to process that 2022 is over and 2023 has already begun. I felt like much of 2022 was making up for the weirdness that was the past two years. Having the opportunity this year to spend holidays with loved ones again, feeling the buzz of a crowded restaurant and all virtual events being live and in-person again was enough to make 2022 better than 2021, which was definitely better than 2020.
Given that I’m now in the midst of the second production on which I formally occupied the position of “dramaturg,” I couldn’t help but laugh with recognition at a particular exchange I heard during a recent reading of satirical masterwork The Thanksgiving Play, which I attended at Thinking Cap Theatre.
It’s that time of year again…
The time of thanks, baking, fall-scented candles, family traditions and dare I say… The start of the Holiday Season! Every November I like to remind myself of all the things I’m thankful for. From things as simple as having food on my plate everyday to the more complex things, like how valuable good health or just being alive is. Whenever I find myself recounting all I have to be thankful for, the list becomes innumerable. Increasing in length from year to year as I grow up and realize just how blessed I truly am. From every lesson learned and all the loss that forced me to take a step forward, to understanding the importance of life with every breathe I take and every. single. thing. in between those big moments is included in my ever-growing list of thankfulness.
A lot has changed since last November. I moved, I became a pet mom, I traveled to new places, tried new foods, increased my responsibilities at work, coped with the death of loved ones and people dying too young, celebrated a new life born being born, and a million other little things.
I spent this November as most do… counting down the days until Thanksgiving (kidding, but not really). The month started off pretty calm, considering I was just getting back from my October vacation to Connecticut. The fun quickly picked back up during the first weekend in November when THE Florida State Seminoles destroyed the Miami Hurricanes (rightfully s0) on Miami‘s home field! I didn’t attend the game like I did last year, but watching it with my friends at a bar on TV, decked out in Garnet and Gold, surrounded by die-hard fans was JUST as fulfilling. The next week was followed by some more fun as I attended my first Cole Swindell concert at the Pompano Beach Culture Center, where we had awesome seats and a few too many frozen drinks. The sold-out crowd provided the perfect atmosphere for a Country music concert, whether you know all the words or not!
Cole Swindell Concert
Feeling the need to compete with myself on how many activities I can fit into one month, I threw my first Friendsgiving! I have always wanted to host a Thanksgiving, partly due to the fact that my mom has always been the Thanksgiving Host and to create new traditions in my own place. In order to impress the three friends I had over for Friendsgiving, I took a trip to my parents house to steal all of their nice Thanksgiving decor, plates, tablecloths, platters and silverware and then snuck over to my grandmas and stole four chairs from her garage! I have to admit that I am super blessed with the friends I have because everyone who attended Friendsgiving brought more than enough food and drinks, leaving me with one simple task: The Turkey. Making a turkey is not for the faint of heart! Never would I have thought that at 6AM on a Thursday morning I would have to stick my hand inside of a turkey and pull out what they called “gizzards”. Now, I can’t take the credit for this because after one attempt at the aforementioned resulted in me gagging, I had a better idea. I decided to wake up my boyfriend who was sleeping soundly and had him stick his hand in the turkey and pull out those so-called “gizzards”! Definitely including this on my Thankful list this year. After the hard part was done I baked a really good turkey and we ate less than half of it! The night was full of fun, laughter, drinks, games, delicious food and plenty of gossip!
Fast-forward through a short 2-day work week and we land on Thanksgiving Eve! If you’re part of my generation, Thanksgiving Eve means you’re going out to your hometown bars for the night to be haunted by your middle school and high school past. It’s the most torturous activity but it’s a tradition not to be missed. We know how I spent the night before Thanksgiving, but before the evening fell, I spent all day preparing for Thursday;s meal/ Thursday’s meal. My mom and I attempted new recipes while watching predictable Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, reading a new tradition for us! In every year past, my grandma is the one who helps my mom prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve always assisted with a dish or two, but never an entire meal. unfortunately, my Grandma celebrated Thanksgiving in Indiana this year, so I replaced her as my mom’s second hand in the kitchen. Holy crap! Thanksgiving is so much work, but so worth it in the end. As we sat around the table and talked all about memories and what we’re thankful for I couldn’t help but feel so grateful that my parents hard work every year to put on a Holiday, just so others can enjoy.
Only 1/2 table of food…
November ended how it always does for The Callinan family, with my dads birthday! He turned 64 this year, although you wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you. Then, because it cant go unmentioned, the FSU football team did what they do best and destroyed yet another enemy, THE FLORIDA GATORS! A great start to a fun month with an even better end…that’s the type of month to be Thankful for.