The Best Job Ever

Multiple times this week, I got to hear some of our community’s young people singing together in rehearsal as we continue to rehearse for the December show at the Hawkeye Community Theater – “The Nutty Nutcracker”.  The kids in the cast range in age from Kindergarten through high school.  Academically, they could never be in the same class.  Athletically, it wouldn’t be safe to put the little ones on the same team as the older kids.  Instrumental music?  As much as I love it – and as much joy as playing instruments has brought to my own life! – the wide difference in skill level would prevent all of them being in the same ensemble.  Choir?  Now we’re getting closer.  But let’s be honest – the music that would be a challenge for the littlest in the cast would be boringly simple for the older kids.  To keep all age groups challenged, we once again would need to separate them.

But the world of theater?  Ah!  Now THERE is a jewel.  With multiple characters that require different levels of acting skill, different vocal music abilities, and different amounts of time spent on stage . . . the most novice actor can share the memories of a show with a veteran of the stage.

I’ve also begun listening to the soundtrack for the show that I will be privileged to direct at Fort Dodge Senior High this coming Spring.  It will be my tenth at FDSH and I’m just as excited about this title as I have been about the other nine!  But don’t ask what it is because we aren’t quite ready to reveal it just yet.  (Contracts to be signed and such!) And no, I WON’T give you a hint!

I had an unexpected day off work today – an all-school field trip took all the kids off campus! – so I spent the time reading, running errands and listening to the music that I will be writing staging and choreography for very soon.  Every so often a snippet of inspiration would hit . . . an idea for a set piece or clever scene change; a dance move that absolutely MUST be included in a particular song; a fun transition to move actors to different spots on the stage mid-song . . . you get the idea!  I simply listened to a musical soundtrack all day and got to call it “work”!

Working with young performers from varied levels of experience and watching them grow in their art or getting to listen to a gorgeous score and honestly tell my hubby “I worked for a good chunk of my day off” . . . I really do have the best job!

Pick a Reason

Maybe it’s the Sophomore dance captain who showed fantastic leadership skills as she helped a cast member get caught up after missing a dance rehearsal.  With patience and encouragement, she taught and clarified dance steps and helped to polish a fellow performers work.

Maybe it’s the principal characters who are devoted to crafting characters that are multi-dimensional, true to the story, and engaging.  Their creative ideas enrich the performance, their hard work makes the accents sound just a bit more polished each time they speak, and they bring chills or make me laugh often.

Maybe it’s the AMAZING sound of the cast as they work through a vocal rehearsal.

Maybe it’s a dance line that works like they’ve been performing together for years, making sure things like hand placement and toe point match!

I could go on for pages.  And I would still be barely scratching the surface.  They wear me out, make me laugh, take my breath away, give me all sorts of reasons to keep layering in new ideas, and keep me feeling young.

As I type this, I’m COMPLETELY exhausted.  It was a very busy week which ended today with a seven-hour day working on the “big numbers” – trying to make up the time lost to snow day cancellations – and my back and legs are so sore that I can hardly move.  But I cannot imagine a better way to end my week.

They wear me out, their energy can be a bit much to handle, and the schedule I run each Spring is nothing short of crazy.  But I love every minute spent learning from, growing with, and directing “my” theater kids!

It's All Wonderful

Just finished playing for one production.  Performance week is always the big adrenaline rush.  Right up to the bittersweet final performance when a few tears are shed, extra long hugs are given, and you snap a few pictures with your favorite people.  That’s the culmination of all the work.

I went right from that show to directing the FDSH Spring musical.  I’m at the very beginning – teaching choreography, confirming music cuts (if and when they are necessary), giving out the blocking, etc.  It feels like I am forever away from polishing, taking/giving notes after a full run of the show, giving make up and hair the thumbs up (or thumbs down!) . . . the thrill of performance and the stress of tech week seem so far off in the distance.  But I know it will all be here sooner than I think.

Today it was reviewing staging/choreo for tomorrow night’s rehearsal, confirming the assignment of some minor speaking parts, and tweaking music cuts to make a song work just a little bit better for the pit and the actors.  That kind of work can be time-consuming.  And it NEVER gets applause.  But I love even the “tedious” stuff like that.  Teaching the choreo and the blocking can be repetitive but I love to see the progress.  Even when that progress is a baby step forward.  I absolutely adore getting to work with new faces as well seeing how much familiar faces have grown since last year.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I have had some paperwork/planning to take care of for the summer youth theater program I direct.  Scheduling rehearsals, creating the audition packets, etc.  We are still several weeks out from auditions so the fun is nowhere near beginning for that just yet!

This part isn’t fun.  To most people.  And it definitely isn’t glamorous.  But it is thick with possibility!  With the Senior High show, the pieces are starting to come together.  For the summer program, we are putting some tools in place to increase parental involvement AND we are growing the program in some fun ways!  To an outsider looking in, this is the boring stuff.  But to a theater geek like me?  The excitement has already begun to build and the possibilities of what will be are still in front of me.  To some, this phase of production is seen as a “necessary evil.”  To me, it’s just a different kind of wonderful.