Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Final Bow

Last night, after our final performance of our all-school musical production of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, I took my final bow.

I've directed at Spring Lake High School for ten years now and it's time for me to be done.

I thought I'd take this time to just remember some of the great moments.  There were hundreds, maybe thousands of great moments over the years, but these stand out.

Here's the breakdown of the emotions:

  • I've laughed like never before.  During Beauty and the Beast (show #3), our Lumiere played marvelously by Brett Newsted, was going through his normal routine.  The hit song, "Be Our Guest" took about a whole week to choreograph, but it was good.  Really good.  At the end of the song, Lumiere does a running slide downstage, arms out, and stops on the final note.  The perfect end to a perfect number. Rehearsal after rehearsal, Brett had been doing the number in his denim jeans. Then, it was our first night in costumes and his pants were not denim. Oh no! His pants were smooth silk. So, we run the show and Brett hits everything perfectly, but those new pants let him keep right on sliding until he was on top of our pit pianist. After the initial dread and once I knew he'd be okay, I laughed like I had never laughed before.
  • I've cried like never before.  When Emily Roberge and Jack Newsted sang "A Little Fall of Rain" on the final performance of Les Miserables, I flooded. That is the song that brings out so much emotion for me. In that song is love, respect, compassion--and those two actors hit it perfectly. Their beautiful voices and performances made me cry like never before.
  • I've been angry like never before.  We perform the third weekend after spring break and that's the same time we'd add running crew, orchestra, lights, sound, and more.  The actors, who up to this point have had five weeks of rehearsal, always needed to have lines memorized that Monday after break.  I was forgiving--for one day.  I won't name names, but there were students still calling for lines on the Thursday after break.  I remember whipping my notebook against the back of the chair--a really good smack--only for one of the young children we used in the production to be sitting close by.  She looked at me startled.  I demanded greatness and got frustrated and angry like never before.
  • I've been afraid like never before.  Annie. Anyone involved in this production knows with just one word why I was so scared here.  It was the night before opening (maybe two nights before) and we were in Warbucks' foyer with all of the staff welcoming the tough red head into the home when a loud pop, then two and three.  Before you know it, the bridge we hung on the bars above to set the scene for the Hoovervilles came crashing down.  The bridge (I don't know how many pounds, but many) came within two feet of a singing Warbucks' servant.  A close call which made me afraid like never before.
  • I've dared like never before.  In my ownership of the department, I decided to push myself in what I thought could be possible. I brought Shakespeare to our high school stage proving that The Bard belongs in the lives of teens. I made it rain, I used a rotating stage, I used projections to set mood, we performed in Theatre in the Round, I brought in a Holocaust Survivor, a judge, and a special education student who told us what it was like to be different.  I used theatre to push myself and the students involved. It allowed me to dare like never before.
Though I use a lot of first person in this blog, it takes a village: great parent volunteers and an amazing team of directors--some of whom came and went (Jenn, Tom, Mary, Jaime, Lydia, Mike, Addison, Nick and more) and others who were with me the whole time (Robin, Shay, Mark, and Aaron)--thank you!

Finally, I leave with this.

If I have enriched the lives of these hundreds of students half as much as they have enriched me, I've done a pretty good job.