As some of you know — since they are the subject of many of my columns — I am fortunate to call myself the mom of two incredible young ladies who are now 10 and 12, or if you ask them, almost 11 and almost 13. (I want to be almost 26, but it doesn't seem to work in the reverse.)

Anyway, my younger daughter has generally been the more timid of the pair. Not shy, per se, just a bit more prone to settling into the background, while her sister, who has a great, big personality, dances in the foreground. She has always been the younger sister, the other sister, the sibling.

Until this summer.

This same little girl is playing the lead role in the musical "Annie," which is on stage at Amesbury Playhouse Dinner Theater through Aug. 22. And if I can be so brazen, she is shining as bright as ever. Confident. Secure. Poised. And for the very first time, her big sister is nowhere in sight.

And stage fright? It's been all mine. I was nervous when she auditioned, nervous during her callback and nervous during her dress rehearsal. I've bitten my nails to their core, sweat through my favorite blouse and eaten my way through the candy counter at the CVS next door to the theater. My daughter ... well, she's just fine, thank you.

I've learned a lot about kids through this experience: When given the right opportunities, they can surprise you in unimaginable ways. They can also stay up really late for rehearsals when they drink those 24-ounce Arizona Ice Teas. And then keep "staying up" when they get home.

Look, I'd like to say that the apple doesn't fall far, and I guess I have some acting talent, but I'm no singing sensation. In fact, my kids threaten to throw themselves out of a moving vehicle when I try to sing along to the radio. Personally, I think I do a decent Lady Gaga.

But, beyond what I've learned about my budding thespian, I've learned a great deal about community theater. First and foremost: Don't mess with the director, because this person can quite possibly rule the free world one day. The director designs and paints sets, blocks scenes, assists with costumes, directs actors, oversees the music selections and choreography, manages ticket sales and, I think, could serve on the UN and help shape foreign policy in any available spare time.

The other players are equally effective in their ability to make the rest of us feel inferior. They are superb actors, dancers, singers and overall nice people who also hold down day jobs. They volunteer hundreds of hours of their time for the love of their craft. Really? Is that all ya got? I do stuff too, like chaperone field trips when I like where the kids are going.

What I'm really trying to say is that these people are pretty amazing, and my daughter — and I — have been lucky enough to learn from them over the past several weeks. Things about working collaboratively as a cast and giving your all when you are dead tired and doing a costume change in 4.7 seconds in a space the size of a shoebox.

Most of all, we've learned that doing something that speaks to your soul gives you a whole different kind of wealth. And I think even Daddy Warbucks would agree with me on that one!

• • •

Sue Tabb is a public relations consultant and freelance writer from Newburyport whose regular column in The Daily News has been on hiatus since late last year while she pursued other projects, including a family venture, an online clothing business aimed at helping fight hunger, called the bread and butter project (

She will be returning to the airwaves this month for a seven-week stint on KISS 108-FM, where she is filling in for on-air morning personality Lisa Donovan while she's on maternity leave. In the meantime, she'll be in the audience for all remaining performances of "Annie" at Amesbury Playhouse. Visit for more.

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