Earlier that year (1987) we had done Madama Butterfly, directed by Giuseppe Bertinazzo. Marjorie McKay was Cio-Cio-San, Ron Stevens was Pinkerton, Roger Howell was Sharpless and Kirsti Harms was Suzuki. Trouble was played by a young local boy, Steven Brooker whose family Giuseppe knew. Initially he was to do four shows and another boy to do three. But the other boy was too nervous and Steven ended up doing all of them. Steven was a delightful and engaging 4 year old with red hair. Bright as a button and full of energy and personality. He and I became great mates!
Rehearsals went well and Steven was a joy to work with. We moved into the theatre and suddenly with an audience there Steven became stiff and expressionless. He froze on opening night. Gone was the heartwarming Trouble we’d enjoyed all rehearsal. Vin Warrener (General Manager) was not pleased and told me so!
Before the next performance I sat Steven down in the Green Room and asked if he was nervous onstage. He nodded. I explained this happened to everyone, even very experienced performers like Marjorie and Kirsti. I suggested that while he was waiting in the wings to go on he should wiggle his arms and legs and shake his head from side to side to loosen up and he’d feel better and more relaxed when he went on stage. We practiced it in the Green Room. Perfect!
Came Trouble’s first entrance. He ran on very stiffly. Stopped. Shook his head and flapped his arms up and down against his side – and stood wondering why audience and cast alike were in hysterics. Meanwhile his mother in the audience and me in the SM corner didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!
Marjorie swooped him up and went on with the show! Steven was a star performer every performance after that! He even won a prize for an essay he wrote at 16 about his experience with WA Opera, called Memoir: A Whole Lot of Trouble!