Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Taking the Stage

I've enjoyed Tony Award winning musicals in legendary Broadway theaters and been captivated by spectacular operas performed in ancient Roman amphitheaters but I can't remember when I've been as completely entertained as I was the other night at my grandniece's kindergarten - 4th grade production of The Wizard of Oz.  I had no idea what to expect when we arrived.  Actually, none of us did.  The kids had been attending top-secret rehearsals for the past six months but all we knew besides the title of the play was what character my grandniece would be playing (a Munchkin) and what her costume looked like.  Beyond that, it was all going to be a surprise.

The production was going to be performed at the high school auditorium and judging from the size of the crowd waiting for the doors to be opened it was going to be a sell-out.  It was clear from the scenery on stage that a great deal of thought and work had gone into this production and we all waited with anticipation as the two narrators (fourth grade boys) stepped onto stage.  And then the fun began...

The microphones wouldn't work.  (A teacher ran down the aisle from the back of the auditorium to swap the non-working mics for new ones then ran back up the aisle to the sound/light room.)  The show continued...for about two minutes.  Then the new microphones started cutting in and out.  Back came the teacher, running down the aisle to the stage again.  After the second microphone swap, we finally heard the narrators.  Sort of.

Next on stage came Dorothy.  At least it looked like Dorothy.  It was kind of hard to tell with no lights.  Glitch #2:  no spotlight.  This time there was no teacher running down the aisle.  Instead, there was a voice rising from the darkness assuring us "there will be light."  Soon!

With the spotlight restored, the play was off and running.  Well, except for that little glitch when the curtain caught on Dorothy's house and pulled it over.  Who needs tornadoes?  Dorothy, bless her heart, was a pro through it all.  Obviously, she had been well rehearsed and wasn't going to let anything get in the way of delivering her lines.  You know, things like the mic going out again, or the curtain getting stuck or Toto running circles around her legs (yes, Toto was a live Yorkie on a leash) or pulling Dorothy all over the stage as he tried to get to his owner in the wings.

All things considered, the action was moving along pretty smoothly at this point.  True, the mics were still going in and out but the lighting seemed to have been conquered and we were on our way to Oz with newly acquired friends Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.  Sure, Tin Man had a minor meltdown when he forgot his lines but came back with gusto after a five minute time out behind closed curtains, Scarecrow exhibited a sharp wit and I'm firmly convinced the Lion is destined for a career on Broadway.  Then the curtain got stuck...again...and the little flowers refused to leave stage (they were mesmerized by the people from the Emerald City)...and Toto staged a sit-in center stage and refused to move...and Scarecrow forgot that he was now using a hand-held microphone and, therefore, we couldn't hear anything he was singing when he flung his arms out wide.  Scarecrow, it turns out, is a very enthusiastic singer!

During intermission, the audience was encouraged to partake of hot dogs in the hallways while the teachers frantically tried to fix the glitches.  Two minutes into the second half brought home the reality that not only were the glitches not fixed but new ones had surfaced and the more things went wrong, the funnier they got.  By now, not only the audience members were laughing but so were the actors.  (My six-year-old grandniece who was finished with her part and now sitting on her dad's lap kept asking why people were laughing because "it's not supposed to be funny!")  Of course, that only made things funnier!

By the time the four main characters reached OZ, they were all sharing the only (somewhat) working microphone, passing it back and forth and trying to remember who had the next line and, therefore, got the mic next.  Let's just say the mic didn't always get handed to the correct person.  Then the mic stopped working again and all four characters turned around simultaneously, hands on hips and glared - actually glared - at the teachers in the sound booth! The audience dissolved into laughter again and this time Scarecrow uttered the best line of the whole night, saying "We oughta just turn this into a comedy"... just as his microphone started working again.  Needless to say, the audience roared and Scarecrow - with a silly grin - accepted his due for the brilliance of his ad lib.

Once the play ended and the cast took a well earned curtain call, my grandniece's mom leaned over and said to me, "I wasn't planning to buy the video but there's no way I'm not getting one now.  I haven't laughed this hard in years!"  Judging by the smiles and chuckles filtering through the audience as we exited the auditorium,  I have a feeling the school probably set a record for number of videos sold.  It was an imperfect production - cluttered with glitches and mishaps, forgotten lyrics, off-key singing and stubborn dogs - performed by a group of fresh-faced, enthusiastic students who put their hearts and souls into each word spoken and every lyric sung...whether they hit the notes or not.  In other words, it was an imperfect production that was perfectly wonderful.

What's tickled your funny bone lately?




12 comments:

  1. It wasn't lately, but I can relate to school productions going awry.

    The best memories can often come from the most surprising & unexpected gaffs.

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    1. The best memories can often come from the most surprising & unexpected gaffs.

      Very true!

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  2. 2 wks ago we went into NYC and saw The Best Man - it was a political satire and there were many chuckles.

    Great Cast - James Earl Jones, Eric McCormack, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette and Angela Lansbury. What a great thing to see 5 famous people.

    Patoct

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    1. Wow, that's an outstanding cast!

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  3. I just watched my youngest graduate from pre-K (they actually have a graduation ceremony!). They sang songs complete with motions. One little guy cried behind his hands for the entire time. Kids are so much fun. They open their cute little mouths and all kinds of stuff just spills out. All the grown-ups thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

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    1. Trish, every pre-school/pre-K program I've ever attended has had at least one child who cried through the entire event. ;-)

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful time! My daughter recently played the part of Mrs. Potts in their school's production of Beauty and the Beast. They had the same problems with their mics but were troopers and kept going anyway! Sounds like a good time was had by all PJ :)

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    1. Mrs. Potts is such a lovely role. I'm sure you were one proud mama, Kellie!

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  5. It sounds like a crowd-pleasing production, PJ, one guranteed to evoke good laughs for years to come via videos and memories. Aren't kids wonderful? Thanks for sharing the laughter.

    One of our most cherished family videos is of the now six-year-old making his stage debut at the age of three. He was a donkey in his church's Christmas pageant. He looked adorable in his costume, and he stole the show with his one-line. He delivered his "Hee-Haw" so brilliantly that he earned applause--or perhaps it was his grin and bow that earned the applause. :) At any rate, he stopped the show with his grinning and bowing, each time to louder applause and more laughter, until the director gently led him to his place among the less egotistical animals. LOL

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    1. LOL! What a precious memory, Janga and how wonderful that you captured it on video. I think it should be included in his high school graduation video montage. I'm sure he'll greatly appreciate it. ;-)

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  6. At the moment I am lost as to something hysterical that happened around me recently but I am so glad that you posted this. I can just imagine how funny it all was and I was laughing while reading this. These productions that our little ones put on are always the best!

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  7. How delightful. I find little surprises like this production to be some of the best times, sometimes more enjoyable than professional productions. I hope you have recovered from the play and its hilarity. The video will certainly be a keeper.

    Our children a far out of the school play bracket. We do have a new granddaughter, Lillie, and are enjoying watching her development. She has just discovered she can take a few step on her own. We spent Memorial Day at their house building a cover for the railings around the stair. The house is a 1960's split-level and the railings were replaced with some our son made. He is a blacksmith and did free-form scrolls and loops. Lovely, except the spaces are big enough for her head to go through and very soon, all those lovely scrolls would make a perfect climbing wall. There is now a plywood cover all the way around a a gate with double locks on the stair side. Our daughter plans to paint at least part of the room side with chalkboard paint. Lillie's expression when she discovered she could hear her dad but not see him was priceless, especially when she got to what should have been open stairway and it was blocked. If she is anything like her uncle, the blacksmith who is also a rock climber, she will be pulling herself over the wall. She could just barely reach the top of the gate and tried to get a grip and pull herself up.

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