I know we're all going through some challenging times right now, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the success of the musical production last fall as seen through the eyes of a newcomer.
As a parent, it didn't seem to be a long stretch from the madness of rehearsal schedules to sideline volunteer duties to opening night, but then my family and I were in our seats waiting for Bye Bye Birdie to begin.
Soon after the opening numbers, we found ourselves laughing so hard that we had tears in our eyes. My daughter kept looking over at me in disbelief. "This is so good," her expression seemed to say. I just kept nodding between the laughs.
To all our friends and family that bought tickets, we told them how much they were going to like it. "This is not a high school production," we told each one. To our die-hard regulars that had come to see our children's previous performances, they came out of the Performing Arts Center shaking their heads in awe but with wide smiles.
"Wow, we're not in Kansas anymore, are we?" said one of our friends.
Another friend, the children's former teacher, was reminded of her performance as Kim MacAfee some forty years ago. "They all were just having so much fun," she told me of the MSA Theatre performance and she remembered how much fun she had had doing the show. Inspired, she dug up some old photos and the playbill from her production and shared those with us.
While I would wait to pick Jack up from the show, I started to look around at the audience as they were coming out and listening to their comments. They were all so genuinely happy and excitedly talking about the show. One woman, who wasn't a parent, perhaps a relative or friend, had been at every show I had been at. I caught her eye and asked her how many shows she had seen, and she said, "All of them, and they've been great every single time!" She stopped and we chatted for a bit and I shared that my son was a freshman.
"You're in for a treat," she told me as she went on her way.
I'm in awe certainly of the caliber of acting, for it was extraordinarily high; and of what seemed like effortless (though far from it) choreography and singing; and of the thoughtful and purposeful direction and vision that guided the entire production. There was also the smooth and almost flawless transitions in set design; the amazing and coordinated costumes; the professional quality lighting and sound that directed our eyes and ears; the fantastic promotional pieces; and the smooth coordination and follow through of various parent volunteer responsibilities that made this show.
But most of all, I'm impressed with what everyone involved in the production was able to accomplish: a connection with people. So many people. You gave us all reason to smile for those two and half hours each night a performance was held.
Sometimes we connect with people on an individual basis, other times we will form a connection because of a kindness or a thoughtful action. To reach someone, many someones, while in pursuit of our passions eludes many of us. This kind of connection comes from sharing a part of ourselves with others. The joy each of you brought to the production is what we as the audience experienced.
Congratulations on a wonderful production of Bye Bye Birdie, and thank you for what was and what is yet to come.