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Local Personality Blogger
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Local Personality Blogger
Riley Children’s Foundation, Trisha Shepherd

Parenting (And All That Jazz)
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Parenting (And All That Jazz)

September 25, 2012 | 08:39 PM

I have lost count of how many female friends I have put in the "goddess" category, who blow me away with their energy, wit, wisdom - and ability to combine elements of their lives elegantly, and without losing their minds. Today, I want to introduce you to one of them. Deb Wims is an actress whom I have worked with at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. She is a mother of two young boys, and one of the most unforgettable women I know. Here's a snippet of a recent Q&A between the two of us, where I tried to learn some of her secrets.

Trisha: You've been a performer for a long time – how and when did you become sure this is what you wanted to do?

Deb: It was when I was in college. I sang and danced in high school and loved it - it did something to my heart and made me so happy - but I thought after high school I couldn't do it. In college I was so sad I couldn't take dance classes any more - my heart just ached for it. When I got a job performing at a theme park for a summer, it changed everything. I knew in my heart I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I couldn't believe someone was going to pay me to do this! I did theme parks and cruise ships, I lived in New York for a while, I toured in Europe for a while, did a couple tours in the U.S., and finally landed here in Indy with Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.

Trisha: How did your relationship with theatre change when you became a mother?

Deb: Oh gosh, it sounds so cliché, but it's true - once I had a child, I realized this is what life is really all about. This is the most important thing in the world. Everything else didn't seem nearly as important any more. Even though I still wanted to do it (theatre), I felt, this is my real job in life, to be a mom.

I did a show when my first child, Matthew, was 4 months old, and I thought, 'I'm not ready to be away from him yet.' After I had Mickey, I took two years off. I just needed time to figure out how to be a mom. My first full show back was "Cats" at Beef & Boards, and that was a really tough show to start back in. It was very hard. I was afraid I had lost all my talent. I had really lost my confidence. I felt like my body was different - it didn't want to do what it did before. After having babies it's a whole different ballgame! It took a couple of shows before I started to feel like myself again as a performer.

Trisha: Your current role at Beef & Boards, playing Roxie Hart in "Chicago," is very demanding. How did you get through the grueling rehearsal period to learn all this material, while keeping your family life on track?

Deb: Right before rehearsal got rolling I realized I was in trouble. It was back to school time, Matthew was starting at a new school. It was a big time in their lives, and a big time in my life – taking on a role I had dreamed of playing for 20 years! I realized there's no way I can do this. My husband, Peter, was up for a promotion at work, so he wasn't going to have the flexibility in his schedule to pick the boys up from school. I was in the parking lot of Half Price Books, I called my parents and burst into tears and begged them to come! They dropped everything and came and helped. They cooked, cleaned, chauffeured the children, helped them with homework. A dirty sock could not hit the floor without my mom doing the laundry. There's nobody else who could do that for us. It was just heaven. Nothing beats your parents!

Trisha: Watching you in the show I kept getting tears in my eyes, watching you absolutely killing this role on stage, but also thinking about how much you do when you are off stage – racing to pick the kids up from school, helping with homework and dinner, and everything in between. Do you ever take a moment to feel proud of the way you are balancing it all?

Deb: There are a few rare days when I think, 'Wow, I really did it today.' I always feel like there's something more I can be doing for my family. Ever since I had kids I feel theatre is the easy part – the escape. I feel like, 'Okay – I've got this!' I can go on stage I can sell a song. It is a gift. But with kids, you never feel like you know exactly what you're doing. Performing is the easy part. Raising children and making sure their lives are as good as they can be, and that they're growing up to be good human beings – that's the hard part.


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