Sound of Musicals, Part Three

by cindy


We made it to Oz.

And the trip was amazing.

To answer the most burning question first: Yes, Dave’s trees were completed in time. Nothing crucial fell apart. All three trees survived the week of dress rehearsals and the weekend of performances. Miracles DO happen after all.

At the beginning of show-week, I was not particularly confident that the show would be ready for the audience. We were approaching sold-out status in the ticketing booth. Pressure was on.

As I watched that first night of dress rehearsal, I became painfully aware how much still needed to be built, painted, and completed on the set. I listened to the pit orchestra continue to struggle with the music. The actors kept missing lines and losing parts of costumes. The deck crew misplaced pieces of the set and had issues manipulating the flying technique. The lighting design was just being worked out. And our Toto peed on the stage. The show seemed to be one poop short of a disaster. And there were only three more nights of rehearsal before we opened.

It became a very busy, very intense week.

Ready or not, Friday, Opening Night, arrived. Dave and I sat in the audience, gritting our teeth and holding our breath.

Now, I have witnessed many of these productions over the years. Most of the rehearsals during the week of the show are rocky, though I cannot remember any that were as rough as these. It is not unusual to pull it together just in time for opening. This year, however, the distance to be covered from first dress rehearsal disaster to opening night readiness was huge. Maybe insurmountable. I had some serious doubts that it could be done. Or at least done in a manner close to our normal, high standards.

I was so wrong.

It was brilliant.

I have never been as proud of a group of students as I am of those involved in this show. The distance that they covered in a few short days—that distance that brought them from the brink of disaster to the peak of perfection—was incredible. As I sat in that audience, my face surely had to be beaming. This is student theatre at its best. Maybe adults did the designs. Maybe adults gave the directions. Maybe adults provided the leadership. But…

The students did the work.

The students provided the skill and labor to glue a thousand bottle caps which gave the Oz Gate its special texture.

The students squeezed paint into foam padding to give the bark of trees their color.

The students used their voices and their bodies to give Dorothy and the Tin Man and the Witch and all the characters life.

The students built the set, beginning with tracing intricate designs, continuing with power tools that give me shivers, and finishing with paint brushes, rollers, and feather dusters to bring out color and texture.

The students were controlling the pulleys that flew Dorothy, the Witch, Flying Monkeys, tornado, all, high across the stage and back.

The students hung the act curtain logo after spending hours applying sequined fabric to give it sparkle.

The students honed their instrumental talents to accompany the show, going from Over the Rainbow to the Jitterbug and Oz and back.

The students cut fabric, assisted in sewing, added glitter and doo-dads to make Munchkins a kaleidoscope of color and whimsy.

The students ran the computerized sound board and lighting controls and hand-controlled the spotlights.

The students did all of this and so much more.

The adults involved in this program insist on excellence. Our standards are high. Year after year after year, the students involved in these productions rise to our expectations. As proud as I am of them, as proud as all of the adults are of them, the students are even more proud of themselves. Deservedly so.

In the beginning of this series of posts, I shared  how and why I became involved in theatre. Now, perhaps, you understand why I continue to return. Yes, there is magic in theatre. And yes, there are miracles, too. It is, however, the pride I see on the faces of these kids when they know they’ve done their very best that continues to bring me back. Their faces glow. There is no light more brilliant than the light of their smiles at the end of a most successful production.

Well done, lads and ladies. Well done.