Dear Teen Me,
Congratulations! You did it! You have found your people. I know you are so happy to be playing Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress, and so happy to be spending all of your time with the other self-proclaimed drama dorks. You finally feel like you have a place you belong, and I know how much this means to you, because even when you are twenty-nine, you will still remember the choreography to “I’m in Love with a Girl Named Fred.” (You really didn’t need to hold onto that, Teen Stephanie.)
Enjoy it. This is the second-to-last musical you’ll ever do, because you’re about to decide you’re too “serious” of an actress for anything involving a time step. So for now, sing your little soprano heart out, produce the jazziest jazz hands ever, and relish every whispered bit of gossip backstage about who likes who. And take more pictures with Caitlin, because in about a decade, you’ll be her bridesmaid, and she’ll be yours, and those pictures of the two of you in medieval garb are hilarious. You’ve got one on your fridge in Chicago right now.
Also? Stop blotting the grease off the free pizza you get during tech week. Or throwing the crust away even though it’s your favorite part. I know you’re scared that you can never be a real actress. That you’re not pretty enough, good enough, thin enough. But you know what? No one but you cares how thin you looked or didn’t look in your costume. And you looked adorable, dummy.
I’m glad you found an escape from the high school agony you’re constantly writing about in your diary, which can be summed up neatly into two categories: “I’m too fat to be a real actress” and “I’ve never had a boyfriend.” Most boyfriends are overrated, Teen Stephanie! But I’m sorry you feel like your life is only happening on stage. So what if your first kiss was with a gay Phantom of the Opera? So what if you’ve never kissed anyone offstage? I promise, it’s fine! Next year you’ll do a play at an all-boys’ school, and seriously, Teen Stephanie, you should have hit that up earlier. So stop worrying about when that first kiss will finally happen. It’s coming. I wish you could just enjoy being onstage with your friends now, instead of worrying about whether or not these guys you’ve barely talked to think you’re cute, or whether or not you can make it as an actress.
Because guess what—you did it. You’re a theater major in college, and you move to New York because you get cast in an off-Broadway show. People actually pay you to act. In twenty-two different states! It’s not always glamorous, and you end up playing way more amphibians than you ever thought you would, but you did it. You are a professional actor. And no, you didn’t get super skinny. Turns out, you can be a working actor even if you don’t have super prominent clavicles.
Here’s the plot twist, though—that unexpected Act V Hamlet never saw coming—you kind of . . . decide you don’t want to act anymore. There’s a moment, when you’ll be sitting backstage at a Chekhov show, when you realize that you’re actually having more fun in the dressing room than you were on stage. That’s the moment when you realize you’ve fallen totally, completely, head over heels in love, and no, it’s not with the man playing your husband in the show. (You broke that pesky castmate-smooching habit a long time ago when you fell for a guy working in the development office at a theater you performed at in Florida. And love is even better than it seems in musicals, even if he hates dancing. You’re getting married in September, and yes, your wedding is in a barn, but there will be no horses in attendance. Sorry, Teen Stephanie.)
Surprise—you’ve fallen in love with writing. Yeah, remember that thing you wanted to do when you were in fourth grade? Just like Jo March? Guess what? You did that too! You wrote a book! You wrote multiple books! And you realize more and more that you love writing, that you love creating your own worlds, and even thought it makes you feel bad to admit it, you like having a job where no one cares what you look like. Where most people don’t even know what you look like. And you are going to feel so bad about leaving theater. You are going to feel like you’ve given up on your dream, like you’re failing all of your acting teachers, like you’re just the same as every other wannabe actor who couldn’t make it. But you know what? You haven’t failed. Dreams change. You haven’t seen Tangled, because it doesn’t exist yet, but it’s going to be your favorite Disney movie. And when Rapunzel goes out and gets a new dream, you’ll know just how she feels. Because you have a new dream, too.
Oh, and you still put way too much stock in Disney movies. But you actually get to work as a Disney princess, so I think that’s okay.
Keep dreaming big, Teen Me. All those dreams are going to come true. And eat the damn pizza crust.
The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Cass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.
But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.
The best kind of entertainment, The Taming of the Drew is smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.
Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of The Taming of the Drew, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture and the upcoming It’s Not Me, It’s You and Prince in Disguise. She graduated from Middlebury College with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She currently lives in Chicago with her fiance and a dog named Lorelei Lee. Visit her online at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com, follow her on Twitter @stephkatestrohm, and like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephaniekatestrohm.
This post was originally written for DearTeenMe.com. The site is currently on hold, so, with permission from DearTeenMe, we’re sharing our authors’ posts here instead!