Friday was opening night for our 5 encore and final performances of High School Musical on Stage. The kids worked very hard around school work, homework, prom, and everything else, last week to rehearse this new tightened up version with the rearranged and smaller touring cast. We parents fell into our ushering, concession, monitoring duties like a well oiled machine. And despite our fears of not selling out – the house was 95% full! It was a fabulous performance to boot! MJ and Downtown Dad broke with tradition and did a short curtain talk, telling people to turn off their cell phones, no flash photography, and then a little obligatory begging, ending with a rousing GO WILDCATS!
Tee shirts, cast photos, foam Wildcat paws and pom poms, as well as pop and sports drinks left over from the Scotland Yard Sale sold quickly at intermission, as well as before and after the show. It never ceases to amaze me that these kids are mobbed at the meet and greet after every show. Little kids with programs and cast photos clamboring for an autograph from “Troy” or “Gabriella,” “Sharpay” or “Ryan.” And not so much amazing as heartwarming, is seeing these teenage actors, after 2 hours of vigorous singing and dancing, patiently, and happily spend another 30 minutes bent down talking to starstruck second graders.
After the show Friday it was a weary, less demanding group of actors who scattered off to various parties and gatherings, knowing they would have two shows back to back on Saturday. After setting the auditorium and commons area right for the next day, we parents, having bonded through this 9 month experience, met at a local watering hole for “choir practice.” It is amazing what good friends we’ve all become with these people. It’s like Downtown Dad said in his curtain talk before the show – “I’m a theatre parent, not to just my kid who is in the show, but to the 60 other kids too.” And while “choir practice” went on til around 1 a.m., we all returned home to find sleeping teenagers.
Saturday was a fuller day, with two performances – both not completely sold out, but a full enough audience to both pay the bills and inspire the cast and crew. At intermission for the 2 p.m. show, one of the directors showed us a letter she’d just received. An envelope with no address, just Moorhead High School, but with specific instructions to the post man to deliver it to the Theatre Group going to Scotland. Inside was a card written in the elegant but shaky script of an elderly woman, along with a check for $200.00. She had read the article in the paper about all of our hard work and was inspired to send money for our cause. She lives in a small rural town, not too far from here so we are trying to contact her and bring her to one of the shows today!
At “choir practice” last night, we again took up half the seating in the place and were louder than we probably would have let our kids be – where do you think they get it? We even came up with an idea to do a music video of we parents singing and dancing to the song from the show finale, “We’re All In This Together.” The choreographer eyed us skeptically, but confident in his ability, decided that he just might be able to pull it off. One of the directors brought his model of the pared down set that will go to Scotland. It is amazing how much engineering goes into making a functional, recognizable set that is light enough and modular enough to fit into suitcases, and can be assembled in 15 minutes. That in itself is interesting enough for a documentary on the Lifetime channel! Meanwhile, again, the tired but happy actors beat us home.
Today’s performances will be bittersweet – the last performed on the high school stage. But since there is an orchestra concert Monday evening – parents’ “choir practice” tonight will be replaced by striking the stage until about 2 a.m. By now, we know how to do this pretty well, having been through it once before, and we all all such good friends that it almost wont really be work…. after all, “we’re all in this together!”