Last week was TOUGH! I failed at everything! Being a wife, a mother, an artist, a writer… EVERYTHING! I just know that something had to give or I was on the next bus to the looney bin for sure!
Our local state theater was running a contest call “Nuts About Annie”. The contest required you to write a short essay about why you loved the musical Annie. The winner would receive two box seats tickets to see the national tour of Annie the musical. This was a contest I had to win, not only because of my life long Annie obsession but because of the addiction that I passed on to my oldest daughter Molly. Who was named after one of the orphans in the show might I add. I HAD TO WIN! We just didn’t have the money to go otherwise. So I said my prayers and let the words flow.
I was blown away by the outpouring of people writing on my behalf. The fact that they took the time out of their busy lives to put into words why I should be a recipient of this awesome prize, brought me to tears. I too wrote on our behalf and although I really wanted to win anyway possible, I secretly prayed that my piece would be chosen! I needed that validation that I could win! That last week was just a fluke! That could be a good mom & write a “award winning piece”. Well as fate would have it WE WON! But it was my husbands letter that sealed the deal for us. Now don’t get me wrong I was SO EXCITED for Molly and I! I cried tears of joy because we were going to be able to have this amazing experience together. BUT COME ON! Matt’s letter won? Dang it! He was in the doghouse and now I had to let him back in. HA HA! My ego as the creative writer was a bit shot, the fact that he got the glory kinda sucked, but the excitement of our Annie obsessed toddler made those feelings seem so ridiculous as she exclaimed: “I’M SO EXCITED!” And leap’n lizards is she! She is on a full Annie countdown!
Below you will find Matt’s moving submission that he wrote for the contest. I am happy that my girls have a daddy who takes the time to write nice things. It will be a memory that will last a life time.
To Whom It May Concern,
When someone say that they are a truly nuts about something, it’s hard believe them unless you see it first hand. There are people out there who are crazy about The Beatles, or The Muppets, and even McDonald’s (like my grandfather). I can tell you, however, that there are people who are truly ‘Nuts About Annie’ and the biggest one of them all is none other than my wife, Melissa.
At a very young age, Melissa sang and danced her little heart out many times a day to the beloved movie of Annie. Since Melissa was an only child, she had to use her vivid imagination daily and with the help of the Annie record, that her father couldn’t stand, she was able to do so.
She would constantly believe that she was the little red-haired girl who longed for her parents to come and pick her up at the orphanage and dreamed that her own home was Daddy Warbuck’s billion dollar mansion.
As Melissa grew up, she continued to express her creativity through sports and theatre, but it wasn’t until a near death car accident in her 20’s that made her focus her efforts on other avenues. She decided to go back to her roots and continue on her love of theatre. She did this by joining the cast of Annie at a local theatre company. I find it truly fitting that the show that would soon help her theatre career grow was none other than Annie. Although I didn’t know her at the time, I am still told to this day that she was phenomenal as Lily St. Regis.
Her love for theatre, performing, and making the audience laugh continued on and eventually I entered the picture. That’s when I found out how much of an Annie fanatic Melissa truly was. She would share stories with me of how she would parade around her the house in her Annie dress singing, “It’s A Hard-Knock Life,” along with many of the other iconic songs from the show. She also exclaimed that not only did she have the red dress, she also had the commemorative plates, the action figures, and Warbuck’s Duesenberg car. Crazy! I know, but that’s how nuts she is about Annie.
Once we got engaged and started planning our wedding, it was a bumpy road for Melissa. About three months before we were to be wed, Melissa was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had three major surgeries that left her disheartened because we were informed that we were most likely not going to be able to have children. This was very hard on the two of us, but it was extremely crushing for Melissa because she always dreamed of having a family and being able to share experiences she had when she was younger with our children. One of those experiences was the love of Annie.
We finally got married in November 2012 and at our reception, we paraded down the hall’s staircase to “I Don’t Need Anything But You.” I didn’t have any say in this one and I certainly wasn’t going to start a fight because I knew that it played a significant role in her life. After trying for months to conceive, we finally got pregnant and had a baby girl named Molly. There are many reasons we named her this, but the main reason is because of the lovable character in the show. It was only fitting that we did this because we also have a dog named Oliver (Warbucks).
Even though Molly is young, she, as well, has become a huge Annie fanatic like her mother. This past summer all she wanted to watch or listen to was Annie. There were days where we would watch it two or three times and believe it or not, it never got old to her. Every time Molly watches the show, she has to be wearing Melissa’s Annie dress.
Now, I mentioned before that my wife is involved in theatre and I am, too. Besides performing at the local theatre company, I also run the theatre program at the school I work at and we just finished our amazing production of Annie last month. I chose to do the show because not only is it a classic in the world of musical theatre, I wanted to have my students do it in honor of Melissa, Molly, and my other daughter Madeline. Melissa worked countless hours finding costumes for the show because she wanted to make sure that the cast looked their best and was ready to shine on stage. Opening night was the first time that any of them saw the hard-work and energy the students put into the show. The cast also knew how much Melissa and Molly loved Annie, so they didn’t want to disappoint them.
As the show commenced, Molly was up in the front row with Melissa singing and dancing her little heart out as the cast stomped, scampered, and pranced across the stage. Molly kept begging to go up on stage because she wanted to be part of the action. It was one of the greatest things I could have ever witnessed.
I am truly blessed to have someone like Melissa in my life. She endures so much on a daily basis by being a stay at home mom to Molly and Madeline, who only are 18 months apart. To her, every day must feel like the life that Miss Hannigan led, but I know for a fact that she loves every minute of it.
In my eyes, Melissa is truly Annie. She keeps going through life dodging the obstacles that are hurled at her every day. She is optimistic about life and wants to make sure that everyone is happy and always laughing. I know it may sound corny, but she is the Annie to my Oliver Warbucks. She came into my life at the right time and helped groom me into the man I am today. She has to deal with my grumpiness and hard personality, some times, but she makes the best of any situation, just like Annie did.
In closing, if you really have to pick a fanatic who is ‘Nuts About Annie’, then you should pick Melissa Bigelli. She is very deserving of this honor and I know she would love to share a special night with Molly as they bond over a show that they both love with all their heart. I wish that I could send the two of them to the show myself, but we only live off my low teacher’s salary. Times have been very tough for us and nothing would make me happier than to see the two of them walk out our front door the night of the show and see the smiles on their faces as they head down to the theatre. I know that as that night progresses and comes to an end, they will have a memory to share that will both last them a life time.
Thank you for taking the time out of your crazy day reading submissions for this contest, to read my entry. It was an honor being able to share my thoughts and feelings about an amazing human being.