The high school musical is over, and it has been quite a journey. From music to choreography to costumes to set design, five of us adults were the team responsible for the play. Pre-production meetings were lengthy. It was my job as the director to get everyone on the same page and then figure out a way to get these adolescent actors at least in the same book. There was just one problem.
The majority of the cast had never been on the stage before. To them, they had earned a role, and that was that. Week five they wondered if it was worth it. They were exhausted, and even when I compared the rehearsals to the football team's summer "two-a-days," the only ones who made the connection were the football players. Parents questioned the grueling schedule. I understood ... but knew it was necessary.
Monday night was the dress rehearsal. It was disastrous. The cast sat on the stage floor following this, their last practice, prepared for their line-by-line critique, but telling the actors to "get into quarter-position" seemed the least of my concerns. Not only had lines been missed and dance steps forgotten, but we had suffered ridiculous delays, while backstage, students misplaced other's tap shoes and props, and actors stood in the tech crew's way. An undercurrent of disrespect was causing attitudes to erode. Had they not understood my umpteen lectures on how "there are no small actors" but that we are all vitally important, that those "little jobs" -- like the grand drape opening on cue or the suitcases being positioned correctly -- helped make our show a success?
I was close to tears as I told the cast we were not ready and I was responsible. The next night we would perform, yet here we were, selfishly undisciplined. The mood in the dressing room was somber that night. Costumes and props were positioned for opening night, and we went home. Dave asked me how it went. I told him it was my worst dress rehearsal ever.
"Patty, you say that every year," he responded.
I emphasized that this year I meant it, and he answered that I say THAT every year, too. I told him he "just didn't get it" and I would not be nominating him for the Mr. Empathy award.
I prayed a lot that night, and sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I realized God understood. After all, He had dealt with me for a lot longer than eight weeks, and yet I still had far too many times when I, like my actors, was unfocused on my spiritual goals and made life all about me. The difference, of course, was that He wasn't responsible for my mistakes ... and I was responsible for the play.
But maybe not as much as I thought.
On Tuesday, the cast of 35 arrived at 4:30 for makeup and hair. Actors from past years showed up to help. Stage hands began assisting actors who were, in return, organizing props for the crew. Singers were checking their harmony. Dancers were perfecting their steps. Ticket takers and concession workers arrived, dressed nicely (as I had asked), to organize their territory. At 6:50 we circled up -- around 60 of us -- and Jenni Wilson, our lead dancer, led us in prayer. She thanked God for all the talents represented in that room, for the friendships formed, and for this incredible opportunity to bless the community with our performance.
That night, everyone pitched in to help. They were a team. We still had a few kinks, but they were fixable. Dave saw the show and said it was great -- "just like always," he said.
"I knew it all the time," I answered, and we both laughed.
Maybe he gets it, after all.