The (Almost) Perfect 10

About a month ago wrapped up the 10th musical The Captain has directed at his high school.  It is also the 10th high school musical I have choreographed along side of him.  I felt this decade of musicals was a big deal, and so on closing night, the cast called him up on the stage, said a few words about the big “10” and gave him an amazing bouquet of balloons and flowers.  He was mortified, but was OK with it in the end.  The Captain is very modest about his successes.  He actually turned a few shades of tomato.  Mission accomplished.

When The Captain took over the theater program over 10 years ago, it was following a director who was a legend at the school.  Kids can sometimes be strange (imagine that!), and they were none too accepting of “the new guy.”  It took time, but he made it.  And 10 musicals later, he really made it.  I believe this is a milestone which doesn’t occur often, so balloons, flowers and adequate blushing were required.

Being a director is extremely time consuming.  We had both of our dudes during  the 10 years.  String Bean was just an  infant during the production time of the first musical.  I would wear him in a Baby Bjorn while I choreographed the dances.  Squishy came along four years later, just in time for me to demonstrate dance techniques a la Kevin Bacon.  I rode the ride alongside The Captain during the journey, filled with ups and downs,  crazy teenagers, overly involved parents and a fickle administration.  Ten spring musicals.

Here they are in order:

  • Once Upon a Mattress
  • South Pacific
  • Guys and Dolls
  • Footloose
  • Fame
  • The Boyfriend
  • Godspell
  • Crazy For You
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat

I am proud of The Captain and the almost perfect 10 shows.  I say almost perfect because some of them were bumpy rides.  In Footloose, he cast a brother and sister to play the parents of the wild and strong-willed Ariel.  The brother and sister sinister duo teamed up on him and attacked him on a social media website.  Anonymously, of course.  The sister felt she should play Ariel even though she looked older than I do on stage.  Besides that little snafoo in year four, it was almost smooth sailing.

The conclusion of the tenth musical.

So, in the words of Joseph, “Any dream will do,”  but three standing ovations also work.

Memphis the Musical

The Captain and I like going to see musicals.  Unfortunately, we are almost eight hours from the lights of Broadway, so we have to take what we can get in good ol’ Ohio.  Last year, we decided to buy season tickets to the Broadway series at the Cleveland Playhouse and it was one of the best entertainment decisions we have ever made.

The most recent performance was the musical Memphis.  I really didn’t know what to expect besides it being the 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical (which pretty much was all I needed to know).

It was – hands down – one of the best musicals I have seen. Ever.  Now, I have to admit, I really like rock and roll. In fact, I think most of America/England/Canada/basically most of the world digs rock and roll.  Earlier this season, we saw Million Dollar Quartet and I felt like I was watching Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis live in concert.  It was breathtaking.  Memphis was breathtaking as well, but for different reasons.

One of the biggest movies of 2011 was The Help based on the book by Kathryn Stockett.  Sometimes taking a risk and exposing some of the less-than-stellar aspects of our history, as Kathryn Stockett did, is a good thing. Memphis, too, took this risk.  It spoke of an uglier time in American history – one of racism, bigotry and extreme prejudice.  Memphis focused on the music scene where radio was dominated by the extremely caucasion Perry Como’s of the world, and radio stations, just like schools, drinking fountains and seats on the bus, were completely segregated.

The story begins with an aspiring white DJ, who appreciated good music, stating it is “The Music of My Soul,” begins to break through the barrier and integrate black music (which was referred to as “race music” in the musical – I was shocked to learn this was a common term in the 50s) into the mainstream.  Think Hairspray but with even more of a statement.          The musical also delved into a love story involving an interracial couple – the lead DJ and the amazing singer he fell for.  This very sweet relationship, happening during such a perilous time, sadly caused both of them much heartache.  Until the mid 70s, there were laws throughout the Southern states banning interracial marriages.  For this couple, the choice became clear: stay in the South and hide the relationship or move to NYC and be together.

Parts of the musical were heartbreaking.  It is sometimes difficult to be reminded of the racism: it’s bitter nastiness and extreme hatred.  Parts of the musical were uplifting.  The progression of how this DJ motivated a great change in society.  Parts of the musical were dynamic.  The singing and dancing were truly outstanding.  This is an excellent musical to see.

Oh, and, we’ve come a long way since the 1950s.  Thank goodness.  I hope we, as a nation, can keep moving forward.

Great musical - get tickets!

If the Broadway tour of Memphis stops in a town nearby, get tickets.  Don’t hesitate for a moment.  It is worth it.  “Memphis Lives in Me.”

Musicals: Amish Style

Romeo and Juliet of the Amish world?

I can’t make this stuff up.  This is a poster advertising a new musical.  Although it is not well-known, it may become a Tony Award winner.  It is called The Confession, an Amish Love Story and a new musical.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin.  First, it is an oxymoron.  Second, who is going to come and see it?  And, third, why did I see this sign to begin with?

I live in Ohio.  There is an Amish population not too far from me.  I don’t visit there very often (although they do have good cheese), but sometimes I am put into situations that force me to drive into the cusp of the Amish world.  On Saturday, a friend of mine had a birthday and she wanted to go to the Amish world to have some down home Amish cookin’. Here are the gist of my texts with the birthday planner:

Me: Really?  They don’t serve any wine there.

Birthday planner: That is where she wants to go.  It is her birthday, you know?

Me: Yeah, I understand. But they don’t serve any wine there.

And so it goes.  When we got there, the poster above greeted us by the hostess station.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  Seriously, I thought, there is a musical for an Amish love story?  This could be epically hilarious or an epic fail.  After staring at the poster for an unrealistic amount of time, I decided that instead of their title, they needed to go more mainstream.  Here are some of the suggestions I have for Amish musicals to, you know, attract more of an audience:

Thoroughly Modern Miller

How to Succeed in Plowing without Fueled Machinery

Hamalot: The Quest for the Golden Butter Churn

Eli and the Amazing Technicolor Barn

Beauty and the Buggy

The Phantom of the Lumber Yard

A Grand Night for Quilting

Me and My Goat

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sawmill

The Yoder Family

Seven Beards for Seven Troyers

Little Shop of Knick-Knacks

Bring in ‘Da Cows, Bring in ‘Da Pigs

I could go on, but I think I have given the Amish community some golden, buttery, homemade noodle nuggets of suggestions.  Maybe I will think of some novel ideas for them next week, like “Gone With the Electricity” and “The Scarlett Bonnet.”

Hair on Hair

This weekend has been a progressive bad hair day.   Saturday evening we were invited to go to a masquerade ball.  It actually is just a fundraising dinner at the community country club and people dressed pretty and wore masks.  Mine was from my birthplace of New Orleans and was quite festive.  There was a photographer there and pictures were mandatory.  Look, I am not normally camera-shy, but I was having a bad hair night and I just wasn’t into it.  At all.

After the “ball,” we headed home to catch up on some DVR stuff (like this week’s favorite, Grimm), and my phone started to light up like a vacancy sign at Myrtle Beach.  Plink, plink, plink.  I grabbed it, muttering about who would be texting me so late, and then I realized: someone was Facebook tagging me in the pictures from the event.  Bad hair and all.  Super.

Side note:  I am very particular about the pictures of me that go on Facebook.  It is not that I am hiding my identity or true self, it is just that I like to be the one to tag myself.  It is just a thing I have.  Sometimes it feels like Facebook is a little TMI instead of being something that I can control.  Also, the person who tagged me in all of the pictures WASN’T EVEN AT THE FUNCTION.  Creepy.

Truth is, I am growing out my hair for Locks of Love.  However, I am a horrible hair stylist.  I did not pass Go or Collect 500 dollars in the school of how to do my own hair.  Thank goodness it is naturally wavy because I really don’t have to do much to it.  For a formal function, though, I am (and was last night) at a loss.

Sunday, the hair issue continued.  Mine ended up in a loose, twisty pony tail and stayed that way all the way up to Cleveland.  We are season ticket holders for the Broadway Series of shows in Cleveland at Playhouse Square and today’s show was the Broadway revival of Hair.  How fitting.

The show was what I expected – peace, love, happiness, war protests and “long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, down to there, hair.”  There is a thing about this show.  Historically, it has a nude scene in it.  Totally naked, not PG, not PG-13, but nude as the day they were born naked.  I wondered, would Hair in Cleveland be like Hair in NYC?  Would Hair show all the hair?  Would Hair take it to that level in Cleveland during a Sunday matinée?  Now, I have seen shows that sported hair – in New York, but never in Cleveland.  So, I was curious.  Was Hair going to be all that Hair is traditionally supposed to be?  Well, now that I have piqued (or peaked – wink wink) interest, I will tell you.  In a moment.  I need to savor this second.  OK.  Time’s up.

Yes the cast of Hair bared all.  For a brief moment, under very low, blue-tinted lighting, they did drop trousers.  And then it was over.  Pretty anti-climatic (no pun intended) leaving me to wonder if it was really all there.  Hair.

When I got home, I took my hair out of the pony, put my Playbill away and placed my mask in the van to take to school and hang up on my bulletin board (because, like doing my hair, I stink at decorating bulletin boards).  I passed a mirror and thought, my hair isn’t too bad at all.  Like a masquerade, my hair can be something to hide behind, but, like the musical Hair, it is also part of my identity.  So I will just let it go.  For now.

“Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair.”

One of the masks from the "Ball of Bad Hair."

Peace, love and let the sunshine in.

Jazz hands, Go-go boots and a State of Memory Loss

There are some days when I am many people. Today is one of those days.

This morning I was a mom. I fixed lunches, got backpacks ready, made coffee (for me!) and put clothes out for my dudes to wear to school.  I forgot to take the coffee with me.

This morning (and until 2:30) I was a teacher. I stopped at the local donut shop (and, if I must say, the best donut shop this side of the Mason-Dixon line) to pick up two dozen scrumptious and oh so healthy treats for my first period class. I gave three exams today, graded countless essays, backed up my Mac, complimented many students on end of semester projects and edited two exams to give tomorrow.  I also spent over 30 minutes trying to find my car keys so I could leave the building.

This afternoon I was a choreographer. I made up an audition combination in the car while driving from my district to my husband’s.  I put the jazz hands, jazz squares and grapevine steps together along with other tried and true audition moves for the next musical I will be choreographing. I taught over 60  teens the combination – still in my work clothes – with enthusiasm and energy that I wasn’t aware I had.  I was so into it that I left my phone in the auditorium.

This evening, I am tired. I can’t remember anything that I had planned to accomplish tonight. I am aggravated about my phone and all I can think about are jazz hands and Go-go boots. Plus, I keep remembering the look of anticipation, nervousness and desperation on those kid’s faces. I was once in their shoes, so I hope the director will cast the show with care. If he doesn’t, I may put my foot down.  After all, I am the show’s choreographer and he is my husband.  This is our 10th year of working together on shows. But the funny stuff that goes along with a husband/wife team (think opposites – I am the goofy one, he is the serious one, or I am good cop, he is bad cop) will have to be for another post.  I can’t seem to remember the stories right now.  All I know is that I complained enough about the phone so he went back and brought it home.  What a nice director.  Jazz hands.

Where, oh where, did my iPhone go?