A Passionate Return
by Nancy Evans Begley
I was born on stage. From the age of three, I was in dance lessons, and I progressed quickly. I was never any good at sports or crafts, and I vividly remember my affinity for the stage, the applause, the lights, the audience, the costumes, makeup, etc., and how I was never happier than when performing for other people. My love for dance led to voice lessons, which led to acting lessons, which led to nothing but all three through the entirety of my childhood. I was born a performer, and, though no one knows quite where the gift came from, there was simply no denying my place in this world.
Life has a tendency to happen, however, and in my case, it happened quickly and in the form of gaining sixty pounds. I was a beautiful, lyric soprano in the body of a fifty-year-old slob, and, by the age of 23, I was 240 pounds with a plethora of health problems. I remember a voice coach telling me that when she closed her eyes, she heard the voice of an angel, but my body didn’t match. It was heartbreaking, but so painfully true. After college, in the same body, I went from audition to audition with directors telling me “you just don’t have the right look.” I didn’t know what to do – diets failed (or I failed at dieting), and the only thing that made sense at the time was to simply quit altogether.
For nearly the next six years of my life I, for whatever insane reason, chose to repress my intense desire for the stage. Regardless of compliments, applause, or encouragement, I had brainwashed myself in to believing that I could not, realistically, turn my dreams in to a reality as a performer. When thoughts, and often times lies, are repeated regularly, they begin to become truths and beliefs. I began to believe there was no other “logical” path for me, so I became…a banker.
Yes, I performed side musical gigs and sang in church, but those were few and far between and, while I appreciated every minute, were a far cry from the spectacle of theatre. I was consumed by my “career” in the finance world, and woke up, three years later, realizing that I was in a world of depression, longing, and regret. I had, by my own actions, denied myself the one thing in life I had loved since childhood.
Since leaving the performance world, there were two notable, positive changes in my life that prepared the way for where I am now: I got married to the most wonderful, loving, and supportive man, and, together we lost over 250 pounds! In a new body, with a new outlook on life, I was uncertain where to turn, but, on a whim, auditioned for a local production of “Guys and Dolls” and landed the leading role of Sgt. Sarah Brown. I was floored, honored, humbled, and, quite frankly, so very relieved to be on stage once more. Not only was the role a dream role of mine since my Granny took me to see “Guys and Dolls” when I was five, but working alongside so many talented individuals allowed me the opportunity to share my story and start believing in myself again.
Nearly a year later, still in the world of finance, I found myself becoming increasingly depressed, even though I had reintroduced theatre to my life in small doses. In December 2010, I had, what I like to believe, my final emotional breakdown over my job and my unhappiness, and made, what seemed at the time, to be a very rash decision to return to the world of retail in order to pursue my long-held theatrical dreams. Taking a 50% pay cut is scary for anyone, especially in such unpredictable economic times, but I knew that the only way I was to truly survive, well, not just survive, live, I had to take a leap of faith. So, I jumped. I changed jobs in January, 2011, and I have been auditioning for shows, performing, and recording non-stop ever since!
My journey has just begun, and I am eternally grateful to God for giving me the strength to trust Him and my heart through all of this. My husband continues to comment that he “has his wife back” and, while I never really left, I certainly am more myself now than ever before. I am a wife, daughter, sister, sales woman, singer, actress, dancer, performer, entertainer, and now, confident in all I do.
Mrs. Begley has been on stage since the age of three and has extensive training in voice, dance, theatre, and music education. She holds her degree from the Metropolitan State College of Denver with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. Mrs. Begley was the recipient of the Denver Lyric Opera Guild scholarship competition as well as the first place winner of the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association Musical Theatre Acting competition. She was also a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association Acting competition and has placed in several local and regional vocal competitions. Opera credits include The Magic Flute (Papagena), Cosi fan Tutte (Despina), Carmen (Michaela), and La Boheme (Ensemble). She has been seen performing with the Colorado Opera Troupe and Opera Colorado. In addition, Mrs. Begley’s theatre credits include Guys and Dolls (Sgt Sarah Brown), Beauty and the Beast (Madame de la Grande Bouche), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Grace), Once on this Island (Erzulie), The Robber Bridegroom (Salome Musgrove), Brigadoon (Meg Brockie), Company (Marta), Damn Yankees (Doris), Grease! (Jan), among many others.
Mrs. Begley was also selected to represent Weight Watchers International for 2009 and 2010 as the Inspiring Stories of Change winner, after losing 105 pounds. She graced the cover of the January/February 2010 issue of Weight Watchers magazine and has been seen and heard on local and national television and radio broadcasts.
Mrs. Begley is currently on the creative staff for a young, local theatre and arts company, Inspire Creative. She serves as a business, marketing, and visibility consultant and has dabbled in directing and properties mastery for An Inspired Christmas and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. She also regularly teaches master classes on audition etiquette and recital performance to aspiring, young artists.
In her spare time, which is minimal, Mrs. Begley enjoys traveling the world with her amazing husband, Noah, spending time with their three dogs Puccini, Bella, and Penny, hiking, biking, and sipping on passion fruit martinis.