Mother Of A Theater Kid

Go, Go, Go Joseph!

This is my first year as the Producer for E’s school musical. It’s only my third year doing anything theatre related whatsoever. In this type of setting, the Producer requires no real talents or skill, just the ability to Organize and Manage on MASSIVE SCALES. I spend a lot of time on the phone and send up to 20 emails a day. AT LEAST. For the last week I’ve been staying up at rehearsals every night so that I can be the liason for the parents. Some nights I stay very busy, some nights I don’t have immediate tasks to do so I do whatever I can to help the real talent. I painted a chart for a prop. I’ve decorated cuffs for E’s costume. I’ve hot glued hats and I’ve made concessions signs.

In other words? I’m having the TIME OF MY LIFE. Amidst the chaos anyway. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.

  • You don’t have to be able to sew, to help costume. Costumes often involve as much hot glue as they do thread. And I am the TOTAL master of the hot glue gun.
  • Don’t take ANYTHING OUT OF YOUR CAR until the show is over. During prep I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in my car. Paint drop cloths, furniture, poster board, socks etc. Any time I’ve taken something out trying to “clean” I’ve needed it the next day. It’s like Murphy’s Law of Musical Production.
  • Some quick changes are impossible. A “Quick Change” is when a performer needs to change in an impossible amount of time. I’ve seen these kids do them in 15-30 seconds with the help of several others stripping off clothes and putting others on. But it turns out? There is a limit. E had to get back into his Principle Costume (Potiphar) before he bowed at the end of the show. He was in his chorus costume. I counted one night and he had FOUR SECONDS. They tried several shows and even adding velcro to parts of his costume to ease it? IMPOSSIBLE. So he exits his chorus roll one reprise early. THANK GOD. I watched one night and he has to change right off stage (in the “wings” for those of you who know these things) and I saw him strip down clearly from the audience.
  • If information is timely AND important, it is best to communicate it in MULTIPLE WAYS. Phone calls/voicemails seem the quickest/most dependable since so many only check their email once a day – but it turns out that is not the case. So, ALWAYS DO BOTH. People tend to get upset when they are missing key pieces of information. WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE.
  • If you are a crier, expect non-stop tears once you get close to and during production. Every time I see these kids rehearse under full lights and in full costume, I cry. They’re just so amazing and they’ve worked so hard and I just CAN’T HELP IT.
  • There is not enough coffee in the world, some days. Late nights. Early mornings. Jam-packed days between. Some days it’s just impossible to every feel…AWAKE.

If you’re local, I hope you come to the show. If you’re not – send as many good vibes as you can our way. Our first public performance is tomorrow night and the show runs two weekends. It’s an amazing (technicolor dreamcoat?) ride that I will be sad to see stop.

11 thoughts on “Go, Go, Go Joseph!”

  1. I’ve been in Joseph twice – thankfully never had changes that quick. I was in Honk one year at Upper School and I had to get changed in the corridor outside the theatre because there wasn’t time to go to the girls changing room. It was crazy especially when we ended up with a male stage hand on our side of the theatre instead of a girl like we’d had in the rehearsals! YAY!

    Then again in one of my sixth form performances I had to be dragged off by my ankles – well the shorts that I was wearing had velcro which had got caught on my tights so by the time I reached the back of the stage the shorts were about half way round my bottom – I had to play dead so couldn’t do anything about it apart from pray that I didn’t moon anyone. (I would later find out that I mooned the tech guy who I fancied but he wasn’t interested! ISSUES!)

    During performance week I used to get so ill – I’d end up with a cold through just being so exhausted

  2. Aw, this made me so happy! I was in musicals all throughout high school (in the pit orchestra, not on stage) and I loved them — that rush of nonstop rehearsals is so much fun and makes you feel like such a small but integral part of something so big and collective and awesome.

    I still remember some of the parents who helped, too, and how they were putting in as much time and energy as we did… you are making that memory for some other kid right now!

  3. Fingers crossed! Good luck on the quick change – when our show choir toured, we once had to make our changes in between sheets out in the elementary school parking lot. Then the wind came up…. after that, all the girls had to have a leotard that just never came off, and everything else had to work over it somehow. Fun for costuming!
    I love Potiphar! I’ll be firing up my cast recording this weekend and thinking of you all!

  4. I really, really wish I could come see it! Wisconsin is just a bit far off. Break a leg to both of you! I’m sure it will be MARVELOUS!

  5. For those of you reading, I want to say that Kim has been SERIOUSLY KICKING BUTT at her job. Coordinating such a large-scale production is no easy feat, especially when you consider the fact that every kid? HAS PARENTS TO COORDINATE TOO. So big ole props to her. And smooshy hugs.

  6. break a leg!! I did theatre in high school and then got a BA in Drama (stage management) then spent 7 years in Seattle doing back to back shows….it is exciting and wonderful and fantastic. I had to give it a break, 7 years is a LONG time to do something nonstop, that intense. I have sloooowly been easing back into it. I just stage managed a show that has Broadway potential called Nine Lives. The show was for several NYC theaters. One of the cast members is about to open in Evita on Broadway, Michael Cerveris. He is fantastic. Wait until you see these kids all grown up, getting married and still working in theatre. I have several from Seattle like that. It is addicting. I love it.

  7. Joseph was my final high school musical, and the only one where I got to perform with my brother. So when I read your posts, not only do I get super-awesomly amazed by all of the hard work you are doing, but I also get totally nostalgic. BREAK A LEG, all of you!

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