The STAR had just stormed off the stage.  It wasn’t just any star.  She was one of the biggest celebrities on Broadway…New York…perhaps the world.  The stage manager was frantic over how much this would cost.  Producers were arguing and the crew was caught between frozen shock and a “let’s look busy” disguise.  My own sister had been the final irritant that led to this unexpected exit.

Though my sister had inadvertently caused a chaos, I would inadvertently create order.  It wasn’t an order that the manager and crew would use, but an awakening of family secrets and a new use of my behind-the-scenes TV tutoring.  I initiated something that day which would forever change countless lives – especially mine.

This was back a few years ago when I was five and my sister was eight.  My mother worked in ZIV Television Productions in New York City.  Many times we were able to witness TV backstage.  Sometimes we would see big stars.  This day started uneventfully enough when Mom asked us if we would like to see Dorothy.  Wow, I remember being flush with excitement.  This was an opportunity to see the girl who walked the yellow brick road.  Both Cathy and I loved seeing The Wizard Of Oz whenever it was shown.  No DVD’s or videos in those days.  We were at the mercy of the broadcasters.  Ah, the Stone Age.

We arrived at the theater with butterflies in our butterflies.  We were told that Dorothy was there to rehearse a song for an upcoming show.  We were firmly instructed to be on our best behavior and keep out of the way.  If you’ve never been to a TV studio for a shoot then you’ll have to imagine the organized bedlam that takes place.  People, coaxial cables and anxiety run rampant.

Instead of the normal piano player that usually accompany singers during rehearsals, the often empty orchestra pit was filled with musicians.  Dorothy was a big star and she was getting the full red carpet treatment.

The bustling grownups usually ignored us or got us to run errands.   Nerves were high, so one of the producers asked my sister to get some water for the crew.  While she disappeared, I stared with mounting anticipation at the side of the stage where Dorothy would make her entrance.

And then that moment came.  The moment everyone had anxiously been waiting an eternity for – she made her entrance.  The entire crew, including musicians, rose with a prolonged burst of applause.  Musicians never stand.  At most, they’ll pay tribute by tapping their instruments.  Again this was something I never witnessed before.  Stars and celebrities were the norm here.  Not today, this was Dorothy, and this was excitement personified!

I remember my first impression of the girl who held Toto and skipped with the Scarecrow.  Astonishment.  Shock.  Even emotions like these couldn’t capture what I saw.  She was old.  This wasn’t Dorothy.  It was some pudgy woman yelling at the technicians to move the cameras to capture her best side.

Cameras in those days were huge, difficult to move and moored with big cables.  Lights had even more cables and everything had to be moved.  It took many crewmembers to swing these monstrosities around.  Dorothy, with the orchestra playing, started singing as a small army moved lights and cameras into place.  Cables were being pulled and stretched all over the floor.  “Watch your feet,” the stage manager warned.  Too late.  My sister, holding a tray of water glasses, got tangled in the swirling cables.  Down she went with a violent crash sending shattered glass and liquid all over the stage.

What happen next was surreal.  This “Dorothy” woman started yelling at the top of her lungs.  I didn’t quite understand what she was saying because I had never heard language like that, but boy was she raging.  Then to put an unexpected climax to everything, she stormed off the stage and out of the studio.

Chaos ensued.  Amid the tense voices, accusations and blame, I exited to find my sister.  After a thorough search backstage I found her in the green room where stars wait for their entrance.  There I found my sister, off in a corner, softly crying and shaking.

Being the younger, shy introverted brother that I was, not knowing what to do was normal.  But tonight, something was different in me.  I needed to do something for her so I mimicked something I saw directors do.

“Cathy…, Cathy you’re not playing the part right.  All I see is a person hiding.  We need to feel you.  We need to hear you.  Ready – Go!”

I remember Cathy’s reaction.  I remember that “deer-in-the-headlights” stare with wide eyes and frozen body.  Then she exploded.

“I can’t believe what I did.  I dropped the whole tray.  Everything broke.  And it wasn’t my fault.  Stupid cables.  Now everyone’s blaming me.  It wasn’t my fault.”

“Ok Cathy, that was better.  I believed you.  Now take it from Dorothy’s character.  Pretend YOU are Dorothy, okay?  Pretend like someone dropped a tray in the middle of YOUR rehearsal.  What would YOU do?  Ready – Go!”

For about three seconds Cathy looked like that deer again but then she got into it.  I don’t think either of us understood all those words Dorothy had shouted before, but Cathy repeated them almost verbatim and again with all that fuss and fury.

After switching characters a few more times someone clapping interrupted us.  A woman emerged from the doorway, her face beaming.  I was dumbstruck.  I recognized her immediately from a live theater broadcast last week.  It was Peter Pan!  Ok, Mary Martin,… but in my boy’s mind it was the character she played on Broadway.

She was praising me for helping my sister.  She was giving me all these compliments for the clever way I got her to express herself and gain perspective.  It’s true, my sister seemed like her old cranky self again.  Mrs. Martin talked with us for quite awhile explaining “Dorothy”, a.k.a. Judy Garland.  She said that her outburst was because she was a drinker.

She used a term I had never heard before – “alcoholic.”  The way she explained everything made me see my Dad too.  That insight would help me begin to understand all his bizarre and violent behavior.  That day I began to see the link between roles, behaviors and emotions.

Behaviors can hold you to a particular role but “play” a different role and you get into a different set of behaviors.  You then can “behave” your way into different feelings, and emotions can be the energy for change.  You stretch yourself – you move!  Do this often enough and you can change yourself into a better person.  It also set the stage for me to explore myself, the COA (Child of Alcoholics) that I am.  More on that later.

That day was quite significant.  I got to see the grown-up version of Dorothy, meet Peter Pan and use MOVVE® for the first time.  A good day!  There would be many more good days as people learn to walk outside their “rut” roles and choose better characters, attitudes and behaviors that allow them to become better versions of themselves. Good days for everyone ahead!


Book Cover5When you have direction and a destination worth living, change and improvement just takes practice.  Get on the MOVVE with Elite Motivation!

My book, Elite Motivation, can be found on Kindle and Amazon.  Follow this link to find out about it:

Movve Book coverMy Guidebook, which offers a graphic filled step-by-step format can also be found on Amazon and Kindle.  Here’s the link:  MOVVE – The Five Keys of Elite Motivation

Contact Jamie Cox M.Ed., (509) 396-4307, email: or at our website:  Discover MOVVE™ our procedural application of Elite Motivation that walks the talk of messages, information and knowledge.





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