Last night was the opening of my last musical at my current school, Guys and Dolls. It was kind of an emotional time and I was doing fine until one of my students said “Well Mr. Redman, how do you feel that your last Opening Night is over?” I played it off and replied “We have 3 more shows. No time for getting sad. It was a great Opening Night wasn’t it?”
The truth is, it is hitting me pretty hard. During the rehearsal process it didn’t phase me at all – of course, under the stress of behavior management, communicating with parent volunteers, and still teaching during the day all I wanted was for the show to be over.
But last night the kids had a fantastic opening night. I mean, the show was spectacular. And I am not just saying that because they are my students and I directed it – they really did an amazing job. Believe me, if it was bad or boring I would admit it and chalk it up to “Well, they had a great time doing it”, but it was really good. The general perception is that a middle school production is amateur at best, flat, off key, long and uninspiring – but that is not the case and I think anyone that goes into this show with that mentality walks away with a new perspective on what 1-14 year olds can do on the stage.
As I sat there in the dark, watching the students in the booth hit all their lighting and sound cues (M.D. – the Sound Crew chief, and a 7th grader, was a picture of professionalism), as I comically danced in the back with the Vocal Director and the Tech Director and listened to O.D. (the Assistant Director) make careful and critical observations about the performance, as I fielded questions from J.K (the Stage Manager and a 7th grader), my mind began to wander to the very first day of rehearsal. Then I realized this was it.
Saturday night, I am not sure I am going to be able to keep it together. Last year at the end of Music Man, the 8th graders started crying and it made me a little misty eyed. This year, I am going to have to work at keeping it together. Not only will I be saying goodbye to the 8th graders, but I will be saying goodbye to all of them. Sure I will still see them in the hallway, but it won’t be the same. I guess that is kind of the beauty of theater. Once the set is down, the costumes returned and the props put away all we will have is the memory of that experience and that is something that never leaves you. These kids are amazing and I look forward to seeing what they can do with their talent.