And that dame is my niece, Rachel Rhodes-Devey. During this past week, my family and I had the memory-making experience of being able to see Rachel perform the female lead of Nellie Forbush with the National Tour of South Pacific, while the tour was in Syracuse. On the road since September, and wrapping up in June, Rachel has been the first under-study for the lead since its beginning, and has played the role on numerous occasions throughout the tour. It was our good fortune ( and those who were lucky enough to be in the Syracuse audience on the 21st) that Rachel played the lead while the vast majority of her Rhodes-sided family and friends were able to be in attendance.
Rachel with her grandparents (my parents) following Wednesday night's performance.
A little musical accompaniment if you'd like!
Where to start with Rachel's love of theater and singing, and her subsequent declaration that this is what she wanted to do with her life? Well - this is Rachel on her front porch as a child.
This is Rachel on her back porch as a child.
And - in the living-room. Hmmmmmm...........
Now, at 24, after having been in countless school productions, college productions (Oklahoma City College) , summer stock and Off-Broadway productions, Rachel is on the road with a national tour. I tell everyone that she is living her dream - but in reality, she's been living it for as long as I can remember.
I have told my sister Alison, her mother, that we are so lucky to have Rachel in our lives and to be along on this wonderful excursion with her, but I have also told her how lucky Rachel has been. She had people along the way who pointed out and encouraged her talents. Most notably however, she has a family who recognized that her extraordinarily beautiful voice was just that, extraordinary - and they made sure that she received the proper training, and everything that goes along with it - the vocal lessons, the dance lessons, the hair cuts, the trips to auditions and endless rehearsals. My sister has always emphasized how important it is to be gracious - how important this would be in her career, but more so in her life. Rachel is exactly that kind of person - gracious, humble and incredibly talented.
Yes, I was the one screaming "That's my niece!!!" as the standing ovation and cheers went on and on. We love you Rachel and are so proud of you.
Remember - you may have heard her name here first -
You will undoubtedly hear it again!