Be Your Best, Fall 2023

Don’t Stop Believing

In the musical South Pacific, the character Blood Mary sings a delightful song called “Happy Talk.” The key to the message of the song comes in the first lyric: 

Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk
Talk about things you’d like to do
You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Benita Zahn in Lake George Dinner Theatre's 2023 production of "Shear Madness"
The author plays one of her dream roles in Lake George Dinner Theatre’s 2023 production of “Shear Madness.”
— Photo by Jim McLaughlin, McLaughlin Photography

Do you have a dream? Have you stopped dreaming because you’re a certain age? Stuff and nonsense is what I say about letting age get in the way. As long as we’re breathing, we need to have dreams. Why? Psychologists tell us that dreams and goals bring zest to our lives. They help combat negativity. 

So what’s your dream? 

I recently realized a dream I’d had for ages. About 20 years ago, my husband and I saw the show Shear Madness in Boston. It’s a bit of a madcap whodunit set in a beauty salon. We loved it and I said to my husband, “I have to do this play.” Little did I know that 20 years would go by and that I would age out of the role I envisioned for myself before I got my chance. But I never let go of that dream. In 2020 Lake George Dinner Theatre announced auditions for the play. We all know what happened that year so my dream was put on hold — again. 

Before I go on, let me share a bit of history about Shear Madness. The show was created at the Lake George Dinner Theatre 45 years ago. Two actors at the Lake George Dinner Theatre, Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams, both from the Capital Region, came across a German play, saw the potential for humor in it, had a dream, reworked the show and turned it into Shear Madness. Through determination, they found a producer in Boston to share their dream. Shear Madness went on to become one of the longest-running nonmusical plays in the world. 

 Jump to this past winter. Another audition notice went out for Shear Madness at the Lake George Dinner Theatre. I applied and landed an audition for the role of the self-absorbed socialite. Without pointing any fingers, I’ve had a front-row seat on that ilk. As an actor, observation is my stock-in-trade and, hey, I’ve spent time at the Saratoga Race Course.

As March was about to roll into April, I landed the role of Mrs. Shubert. It was quite simply a dream come true. I rearranged my health coaching schedule and signed on the dotted line. 

For four weeks I drove to rehearsals in Glens Falls under the tutelage of the play’s co-creator, Bruce Jordan. Jordan now directs this show in various cities and since this production marked the 45th anniversary of Shear Madness, he was going to be at the helm. It was a lesson in comic acting that was challenging, exhilarating and sometimes downright frustrating, but it was all part of the dream come true. After all, once we stop learning or decide we can no longer learn, we may as well be put out to pasture. As existential philosophy suggests, “the moment of our death is the moment we stop becoming.”

So, I became Mrs. Shubert, donning the requisite pearls, fake diamond ring and polished highfalutin accent. With each rehearsal I took one more step in 2-inch-high pumps toward my dream. 

When opening night arrived, my dream came true times two. Not only was I in a show I’d wanted to be part of for more than two decades directed by the man himself, but I was also on stage at the Lake George Dinner Theatre, another personal dream. Dreams are funny like that: They often have offshoots that only bloom when we realize one aspect of them. 

Where does this lead me? Who knows. But I’m still dreaming. After all, “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.”

So I ask you: What is your dream?

Benita Zahn is a certified health and wellness coach working in the Capital Region. Visit

Top illustration: Sangsorn.

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