Becoming famous, one inch at a time

A%26E+Editor+Nick+Miller+scoots+across+the+stage.+His+dramatic+portrayal+of+an+inchworm+during+the+production+%22High+School+Musical%22+earned+him+a+partial+standing+ovation.

Lauren Glase

A&E Editor Nick Miller scoots across the stage. His dramatic portrayal of an inchworm during the production "High School Musical" earned him a partial standing ovation.

It started off as any other tale of struggle. The inchworm dove headfirst into life without any preparation. As he made it halfway across the stage, his task became tiresome and his body started to ache. But the inchworm learned a very important lesson: hard work and perseverance gets you a partial standing ovation.

Being in the musicals is rough, even for a minor role like an inchworm. Many nights we would rehearse until 9:00 p.m., polishing a scene and getting everyone in order. One night I remember spending almost 40 minutes inching across the stage in different directions for all sorts for reasons. At one point we were hugging too close to the back of the stage, and another there was too much going on and we needed to tone it down. It seemed endless at the time.

To be honest, a lot of the time I thought about quitting, and when showtime rolled around I was glad I didn’t, because theater is the single most rewarding activity I’ve done in my life. It doesn’t matter if your role is the smallest role or you’re just comedic relief for a scene and a half. It’s all about getting your shining moment, and if you let discouragement from being a minor part get to you, that moment won’t happen.

I felt like a celebrity because of my inchworm. I took 16 selfies with random people who approached me after the shows. I was over the moon. I felt like I was up there with all the other celebrities who made their way without really doing much, like Kim Kardashian. Every single performance has boosted my self-confidence enormously. And that’s not the end of what I love about theater.

You’re packed backstage with people who are tired, hungry, angry, sick, and breaking down, yet somehow they all still manage to be so loveable. It’s the kind of emotional rollercoaster that’s both mentally scarring and unforgettable.

The majority of the people in the show spend their time at rock bottom. The day I completely lost my mind I tried on the hideous pants and turtleneck that junior Lilly Stannard was wearing for her Mrs. Darbus costume. It didn’t take long for me to get scolded.

The week of the show I managed to get disgustingly sick. All my friends kept making fun of me backstage, laughing about how I would be coughing my brains out behind the scenes and walk onstage and have an over-the-top happy face. As I exited stage I would immediately start praying the pit was playing loud enough such that my coughs couldn’t be heard.

The beauty of the theater department is actually in what we complain about. Everyone puts so much time and effort into the same thing and sees each other much more than preferred. Becoming an inchworm wasn’t just in the beauty of the creature, it was the encouragement of everyone else that pushed me to keep going. Knowing that people were stopping their homework during rehearsal to laugh at me is the best feeling in the world.

We really get to know each other, and no matter how many times I got carried down the music hallway because of my general lightness, how many painstaking hours I had to push down on my chin and force my back into the air, the reward was all worth it. It’s about putting on the performance of a lifetime and connecting with the audience and the people you’re working with.

Nick Miller is an A&E Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.