Thursday, March 19, 2015

It Just Won't Stop!

The Winter of Our Discontent

Well, it’s definitely wrenching the meaning of this quote from the Bard a bit, but it expresses pretty well the plight of more than just this high school musical director. I know I’ve addressed this in a recent blog: “spring musical” is a misnomer. And that was just reinforced for me when I opted to cancel our scheduled opening night performance for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer because of a looming snowstorm tomorrow … all weather sources point to an all-day event and temperatures falling below freezing, with a projected high of thirty-three. In “the elevations” around this part of the Poconos, that means many places will remain at freezing or just below. All of which points to messy roads and difficult travel.

I’ve been directing high school and community theater productions since 1984 and this is the first time I’ve ever been forced to cancel a performance. We had our final dress rehearsal last night and I warned the cast this could happen, so they were prepared when the announcement was made this Thursday morning. It seemed the better choice to try to get the word out to the public as early as possible. We re-scheduled our opening “night” for a Saturday matinee, and the two other performances should proceed as planned.

We had another first in our dress rehearsal last night. During the show we are using a chemical haze machine in three different scenes. Having fog onstage has really changed since my early days as a director, when a dry ice machine was used which had to be operated manually and the biggest problem was the supply of dry ice for final rehearsals and performances. Now, the lighting technician can operate the chemical machine from the tech booth.

Long story short, we had a substitute lighting tech last night who had way too much fun pumping haze onto the stage. Just as I suggested he had too much, the fire alarm went off. Fortunately, our school district stage manager was able to contact the local volunteer fire department and head them off, so we avoided having fire trucks and everything that implies roaring up to the school. And I was impressed with our cast, who easily went back to the beginning of the musical number which was interrupted and carried on in the best theatrical tradition. It proved to me these young men and women have this show well in hand. It’s become their show.

One of my cast members, a sophomore named Bryan Lara, posted a parody of the opening number on our group page (one of the best things about Facebook, by the way). I learned a new slang term: he explained to me “flee-est” means “bestest” or “perfect.”

Since we can’t do a thing about the weather other than accept what it brings and deal with it, Bryan’s response seemed perfect, or I should say flee-est, to me.

“Hey, Tom Sawyer, what happened to Friday?
Heeeyy, where are yah. We’ll be waiting in the cold
Wearing our costumes, flee-est cast you've ever seen.
It just ain't the same without Fridayyy!”