Friday, March 15, 2013

Opening Night

My husband Steve and I met in the fall of 1979 at Beeghly Theater where we were both theatre majors.  My experience at Theatre Westminster was uneven at best, and when I graduated, I walked away from performing and have never looked back.  But Steve has continued to sing, act, and direct ever since.  And we're both big fans of musical theatre, so our kids grew up listening to musical soundtracks and watching musicals on television.  When our oldest child was in third grade, his first year at the "big" school, he saw a preview for the upcoming high school musical in a school assembly.  He was mesmerized.  He couldn't wait to see the whole show, so he and I got tickets for opening night of Oklahoma on the FHS stage in 1996.  For the next five years, we kept up the tradition of going to each opening night together: Bye, Bye Birdie in 1997, followed by Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Grease.  Then, finally, he was old enough to audition for his first show.  Despite having a ruptured eardrum on the night of auditions, he ended up in the cast of Oliver! his freshman year.   Over the next three years, he was in the casts of Les Misérables, 42nd Street, and Crazy for You.  In the fall of 2005, he headed off to college as a music education major, dreaming of teaching vocal music and directing musicals.  Almost right away, he realized music was not the right major for him and switched to inclusive childhood education.  Yet he still dreamed of directing  high school musicals one day.  The long-time director of the FHS musicals retired after Ben's sophomore year in high school; his successor directed six musicals and then retired, and in a surprising turn of events, Steve found himself directing the next three high school shows.  When Ben graduated in December of 2009 (that change in majors cost him an extra semester!), he moved back home temporarily to substitute teach and apply for teaching jobs, and he also worked on the musicals alongside his dad.  After directing Godspell in 2011, Steve decided to step down as director.  And much sooner than he ever could have imagined, Ben was hired as the next director.  My heart was in my throat a year ago as I sat in the dark auditorium on opening night and watched the lights come up on a silhouetted fiddler perched on a sloping roof and on my boy's dream-come-true.  Tonight is his second opening night, and I know that on the inside, the tuxedo-clad, 26-year-old director is just as  excited as he was as a third grader watching his first high school musical.  Break a leg, Ben!

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