Last night was the final performance of the final production of the year and my final production at the school. As I suspected, it was a pretty emotional experience.
I tried not to let it get to me too early, but I could sense that it was in the air from the moment that the first students started walking in. They all looked at me. This weird kind of look. A look that was sad and nervous and trying to hold back a very strong emotion. It was kind of like they all knew I was going to die in 24 hours and they were trying to keep it a secret from me. That kind of look.
The musical went off as could be expected and as I sat there watching each scene go by, I started to think about it being the last time that I would be in charge of a show at RMS. I thought back to the first day of rehearsal and how I was so unsure of everything. Did we choose the right show? Did I get everyone in the right spot for the cast? When was I going to have time to rehearse and the big one; What if I wind up going overseas next year and have to leave all these kids behind? That thought hit me part way through the 2nd act and I remembered that when we started working on the show, no one – not even me – had any idea that I would be moving to Bangladesh. Which is kind of the whole point of the show being so emotional to begin with.
At the end of the show, we do this raffle and after the raffle I high five everyone and the kids traipse offstage to go and greet their people. But last night they didn’t leave the stage. Now, it is tradition to give the director some sort of gift after the last show and I knew that they would have something special to give me (what with it being the last show and all), but I had no idea just how special it would be.
Turns out that they had been collecting notes from the kids and parents that were to go to me. They set out some cards in the lobby and had students write me a special memory, a good luck wish, or just letting me know how they feel. The box was full, which was pretty humbling. MK, one of my favorite moms (because she has 2 awesome kids and she has no problem advocating for important things even if it means calling the superintendent and she will bend over backwards to get something done, because she knows how important it is) came onto the stage and presented me with the box – I assume she had something to do with the organizing of it, but I can’t be sure – and I was doing fine, up until her voice started to crack and she started to get watery eyes.
The kids at the 50’s Grill, the traditional hangout after the final show were a riot. By the time that we got there, they had already gone through about 50 “speeches” hugged everyone twice, got all hyper from soda and ice cream, and were in screaming mode when I arrived. It was complete chaos – but I loved it. They were all shouting over one another, I must have hugged kids close to 15,000 times, and I heard “I love you all” twice as many. It was a good and important moment for them and it was made me realize, that these kids are going to be just fine. They are bright, resilient, compassionate, creative kids and any new director would be best served to see that in them as well.
My last 50’s Grill cast party. A great time was had by all.