Monday, November 19, 2012

Long Live the English Language

On Nov 18, 2012, at 7:09 AM, __________________ wrote:

Dear Christine,

My husband and I enjoyed Attack of the Pom-Pom Zombies. We went because our grandson _____________ was in the play, and we really enjoyed the entire performance. The kids exuded joy and confidence, and everyone really deserves to be very proud.

My purpose in writing is to ask you to take correct English grammar into serious consideration. There were many instances of incorrect grammar in the Attack of the Pom-Pom. One example is the use of "me" in the subject: (incorrect: "Me and Jill went shopping." correct: "Jill and I went shopping."). Unfortunately, grammatical errors such as this are very common colloquially in Indiana and probably sound quite natural to the kids. However these same kids will soon be out in the world seeking jobs and following their own paths in a larger global arena where good grammar will be a distinct advantage. I think you have the perfect opportunity to encourage and instill correct grammar through the exciting media of theater. 

Thank you for your time and dedication in bringing these opportunities to the children of your community. I know they will always be proud to have been a part of the children's theater. I know because was in children's theater when I was a kid.


Hi, _________________--

Thank you for your letter.  I adore you that you cared enough to write it.  

As a veteran teacher of the Indianapolis Public Schools, I spent 19 years carrying the standard of proper grammar, modeling it and even refusing to respond to kids unless they spoke correctly.  I demanded 'asked' instead of 'axed', please and thank you, and I often told them that were I a 'boss', and they came in to interview for a job, I would not hire them if they said 'ain't'.  I said, "If you use incorrect grammar, then it says to me that you went through 12 years of formal schooling without bothering to learn to speak correctly, so why would I want that kind of person working for me?"  

If you were a fly on the wall at rehearsal, you would know that I often correct the very same example you gave me.  I don't hear incorrect grammar quite so often out here in the suburbs, as I did in the inner city, but I continue to verbally wave the red flag whenever I DO hear it.

When it comes to theatre, however, the fault lies with the playwright.  The kids are instructed to learn the lines the way the playwright wrote them.  Often, the incorrect grammar (and sometimes the mispronunciation of words) is written in as part of the character (in the case of plays with, if you will, hillbilly characters, or characters who learned English as a second language).  I'm sure, as you wrote your missive, you were recalling your grandson, who portrayed Barnacle Bill, a sassy old pirate, in "Attack of the Pom-Pom Zombies".  Poor grammar not withstanding, he did a marvelous job, but I ask you to think about Barnacle Bill for a moment.  He was an old pirate, who came ashore and went into the restaurant business.  The kids are encouraged to create a back-story for their characters, and it is not difficult to imagine that a young Barnacle Billy may have run away to sea at the age of 8 or 9, and served as the cook's boy on a whaling vessel, or a lookout in the crow's nest, or a sailor in charge of keeping the sails trimmed and the decks well-swabbed.  His formal education may have terminated in the 3rd or 4th grade, and the poor lad would never have learned the correct usage of 'he and I', the proper conjugation of 'to be', and how to speak without sounding like he had a mouth full of marbles.

There have been times when the lines written for characters included poor grammar and I corrected them because I felt that particular character should speak correctly.  There have been times when I've added poor grammar to the lines to help create character.

Rest assured, _____________, that there is no more champion of the English language than myself.  I'm particular fond of the proper use of 'a' and 'an', which I fear we will see the death of in our lifetimes.

Again, I thank you for your letter and appreciate not only your presence in the our audience, but your concern for the success of our young actors in their adult lives.

____________ did a marvelous job and I hope to see him back at auditions for "Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens", where, I believe, most of the characters demonstrate correct English.  


Christine Schaefer
KidsPlay, Inc.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"It Wasn't What We Expected...."

"It wasn't what we expected."

That's the best quote of the night from my MV Drama-Teens at intermission of the current KidsPlay production:  "Attack of the Pom-Pom Zombies."

Last night was our "Dress to Impress", the night where we invite the kids' teachers and other special guests to 'preview' our performance so we can rehearse just once in front of a live audience before opening night.  It's an important night to my young actors.  It is a night for relearning what's funny about the show as we've long since stopped laughing at the humor of the script;  it's a night for learning to adjust their brilliant comedic timing to crowd reaction and laughter.

The kids' teachers were there in force--their numbers continue to grow at these evenings--and our special guests were the Mt. Vernon Drama Teens with whom I'm now in rehearsal for "The Music Man".

It was an enlightening evening for this old director.  It was a chance to see the remarkable--and I do mean remarkable--world in which I live through fresh eyes.  We're a bit spoiled here, you see.  We've set the bar high and we don't lower it for any reason.  Consequently, we're used to our production values, and the quality of our performances, but for the most part, these teens had never seen a KidsPlay show.  And clearly, it wasn't what they expected.

A few minutes into the show, I came down and sat in the aisle next to them, and watched.  They laughed, they leaned forward, they pointed and talked amongst themselves.  It was delightful to watch.

At intermission, I talked with them.  They said:  "This is great!"  "It's SO funny!"  "They're better than WE are!"  "I'm gonna have to work on my expressions.  Those kids have so much expression!"  "I could hear every word they said!"  "It wasn't what we expected."

Now, children.  Don't let this go to your heads.  We are but child-actors in a small-town theatre...a mere blip--if that--on the national entertainment registry.  But...we ARE remarkable.  The seriousness with which we take our craft, the detail that we put into a production, the mountain-movers we call the KidsPlay Machine, the hard work we put in--it does set us apart.  It makes us unique.

KidsPlay is Greenfield's best-kept secret.  We are a surprise, a delightful treasure, and we are NOT what people expect.  So...if you haven't seen a KidsPlay show yet, come--Friday and Saturday at 7, Sunday at 2.  "Attack of the Pom-Pom Zombies" at the Ricks Centre for the Arts.  And expect the unexpected.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"A Star is Mighty Good Company..."

Okay, I admit I have blown hot and cold on "Our Town".  It's a well-worn piece of theatre, done by everyone at one time or another.  It is beautifully executed by a director who cares very much about the message, with strong and powerful performances by George, Emily, the Stage Manager, Simon, Mrs. Webb, the Gibbses....  But rehearsals have been long and grueling.  I have three lines.  I move furniture.  And of course, I sit....and sit.....and sit.

Fast-forward through Tech Week to Opening Night.
The young lady, Michelle Wafford, who plays Emily presented everyone with a gift.  I set mine aside at first, in the rush of getting ready.  But then I went to open it.  The box said Oriental Trader.  What trinket, I wondered, did she find at Oriental Trader to represent "Our Town"?  Or would it be just some generic good-luck gift?   I took it out, and unwrapped it--it was a silver star, hung with a satin cord.  Written on it with permanent marker was this:  "A star is mighty good company...."  A line from the show, which just happens to be MY line.  ONE of my three lines. And of course, the tears came.

A star IS mighty good company.  The starlight created by the lights on stage, the stars around me who carry the show so elegantly and eloquently, and the star that burns in all of us to make sure we look as hard as we can for as long as we can, that we live life to the fullest, and that you never know when the tiniest of gestures--a silver star on a satin cord--will touch someone and bring the message home.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Equal Time

I've taken a little grief for not posting about the third show I'm involved with:  Acting Up's production of "Our Town".

"Our Town" is a classic piece of high school and community theatre, but this professional production, directed by R. Brian Noffke, is art on the stage.  Under his meticulous direction and fine hand, Acting Up Productions has created a living painting, a time capsule of turn-of-the-20th-century life, without benefit of a paint brush, a set, or even props.  Only a handful of chairs and tables set the stage for this portrait of the human condition.  Beautifully directed and skillfully, balletically performed by Noffke's actors, we see small town life as it was circa 1901-1913.  You will smile, nod, and perhaps wipe a tear or two, while peeking through the window into the lives of the Gibbs family and the Webb family, as their two children embark into their adult lives together.  You'll love and recognize their neighbors as they go about their daily lives, delivering milk, running off to school, attend church choir practice, and stopping by the soda fountain for some refreshment.  It is an elegant and thought-provoking piece which belongs in everyone's cultural literacy library.


And if all of the above weren't enough reason to see it, far down, like maybe 23rd or even 31st on the list of reasons to see "Our Town" is the opportunity see one Christine Schaefer, Empress of Boundless Energy, doctorate in ADD, Queen of the Fidgets, and Founder of Our Collective Problem, sit completely still for nigh on 107 minutes.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I'm now involved in three productions and have two fund raisers in the making.  Could life possibly more hectic?

KidsPlay rehearsal last night:  we're working on "Attack of the Pom-Pom Zombies".  I have 42 kids in the cast.  It is mind-boggling, but I really haven't thought (or screamed), "Why did I do this to myself?  Never again!  No more than 25 EVER again!!!"  Amazingly, it's been fairly low-key.  I can imagine that if you've sat in on rehearsal that you don't think so, but...really, it's been okay.  I have a high tolerance for chaos and noise.

Blocking is tedious stuff.  It's the time when tempers are most likely to fray.  Mostly mine.  With this age group, when you give a note to one kid--the ten kids in closest proximity all HAVE to try it out themselves.  It's like an unwritten rule.  It drives me crazy,'s just the way it is.

We are way behind in the blocking.  Act I is blocked.  It took double the rehearsals than I thought it would.  It's the fact that most of the 42 kids are on stage all at the same time.  Crowd scenes are the absolute worst.  They're difficult to envision, difficult to manage (getting everyone to stay right where I put them), and slow, slow, slow.  Crowd scenes need to be 100% choreographed--otherwise, they DO look like chaos.  Even if chaos is what you're trying for, every move has to be thought out.

We started blocking Act II last night, almost a week and a half behind schedule.  It was slow, and the kids are SO excited!  They want to add their input, their ideas.  I generally love that, but I'm on a time schedule here, and six kids who want to try six different, tell me about it at the next rehearsal.  I mean, I'm glad they're into it, glad they're thinking about it--but kids!!  We gotta finish this up by 8:30!!!

In the end, we stopped six pages short, at 8:00, and I asked them to rerun what we'd done in Act II.  I call this the 'Lock' part of "Block and Lock".  We block it, and then we run it to 'Lock' it in.  It was amazing how the chaotic look of the blocking suddenly totally flowed.  I was kind of awed, actually.  As I was blocking, I kept thinking, "This won't work because we can't see this person," and "I'll have to go back and reblock that..."  but watching them run through it, well, it looked pretty dang good.

And I'm proud of the kids.  Really proud of them.  Blocking isn't fun--and we're not done yet--but they still all have smiles on their faces.  I haven't crushed any spirits just yet in the pressure to finish this phase of rehearsal.  Lol.

I love those kids.  Lucky is my life.

Under the 'be careful what you wish for' category, I have taken a new job.  I've been hired on as the Drama Director at Mt. Vernon High School.  This isn't the time or the place to revisit old incidences.  Suffice it to say, I'm as excited as a kid in a candy store to be working with teens again.

There's not enough time to write of the optimistic thrill I feel in working with their music director, Amy Studabaker, another Daughter of Bluffton.  What a coincidence!!  Talk about the planets aligning.  I only hope she's as thrilled with me as I am with her.  This might be premature, but I have visions of quite a few shows to come here.  :-)  And THAT thought makes me smile.

The kids.  There have been so many amazing happenstances here and one of them is that so many of them were able to make it to a single audition with barely 48 hours notice.  The casting was so fast, and another one of the miracles of the entire thing is the serendipitous, mutual agreement between the music director and myself as to whom should play the leads.  Again, the stars align.

I haven't gotten too much face-to-face time with them, except to speed-read them through auditions, introduce myself, lay out a code of conduct and throw out a rehearsal schedule that only the kids from Glee could manage.  They seem so excited.    They seem so grateful to have someone step and and direct.  In truth, they seem as excited as I am.  I hope I can live up to my reputation that precedes me and to the expectations they have of me.

My first blocking rehearsal is tonight.  Tonight, we start the real work.  And I can't wait to get started.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I keep up a pretty remarkable pace in this life.  It's one show after another here:  shows that sometimes overlap beginning to end; shows that overlap with events; events and shows that overlap with vacation, and family happenings.  I'm living my theatre life at breakneck speed, to fit in all the shows in which I want to perform, events I want to make happen, actors and directors I want to work with, shows I want to direct and produce.

It's an exhausting existence, one that leaves me, the household, the family, in a constant state of flux and anxious anticipation.  The house revolves around my schedule of auditions, rehearsals, set-building, and performances.  I try to keep the eternal antsy-ness I feel of needing to be somewhere, needing to finish tasks, needing to Go and Do to myself, and only call on the family as needed.  Just thinking about it increases my heartbeat....

But for now, we are mostly done.  The current show will wind down this week.  It has been yet another wonderful journey of camaraderie, hard work, introspection, and joy--one of the best ever--all fodder for a blog post, but not for this one.  Maybe later.

As the to-do list for this show grows shorter, the weight on my shoulders lightens, and my breath-speed returns to normal, I think about my life, where I am now, my place in this family, in this community, in the world and I reflect.  Next?  What's next? I ready?  I'm 53 this summer--still leaning more towards Jack Russell Terrier than Bassett Hound, however, but my  husband is retired now, and at home.  Two boys at home, still trying to find their own place.  What. Do. I. Want?

I search every corner of my brain for the laciness that comes with age.  I check the edges of my soul for the singe marks of burn-out.  I check my heart for any sign, any sign at all of unrest,  of weariness, of dissatisfaction with the current track; any sense of 'been there, done that' boredom; for a feeling that what has brought me such joy for so long is starting to become a chore....  No.  Not just yet.   Not. Yet.

A pile of books and magazines beside my bed beckon to me--something to read that is not a script.  An evening in front of the TV instead of at rehearsal.  Sewing for myself and not for an actor, and decorating ideas from Pinterest for my house and not a set.  Shimmery visions of the future. These lie ahead, down the road. 

For now, there's another show ahead--the kids this time--laughs to be had and lives to touch.  For now, auditions and costumes, a set to design, and a new to-do list to compile.  For now, it's still theatre, and not my place on the couch; for now, there's still the applause.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"You Had to Be There....": a futuristic narrative

The ancient woman leaned forward.  Her glasses, the lenses smeary with fingerprints, slid further down her nose and perched there, crookedly.  Spidery straggles of hair that failed to be caught up in the long, once red braid floated free.  The chair strained with her shifting weight, its wooden arms smooth with wear.  Her grandchildren had, at her bequest, attached rockers to the legs.  She had wanted a rocker, but would sit in no seat but the old maroon canvas chair.  Her lips moved, as if she were reciting some long ago creed, a prayer, a poem.  Her eyes fixed on the shelf to her right, cluttered with many objects, some familiar, some curious...all dusty.  A post-it note, its stickum having long ago worn off, was taped, and retaped to the front of the third shelf.  Curled up, and crusted with yellowing cellophane tape, the penciled words, "KidsPlay Props Hall of Fame" were barely legible.  Her watery blue eyes took in the words, and then seemed to move over each object, taking it in, processing the vision, the memory.


The children timidly moved forward.  To them, the shelf was an eye-candy treasure trove.  They knew that everything present had purpose, meaning, and a story behind it.  Anthony stood back, but pointed.  "What is that, up there on the top?"
The old woman leaned her head back, and squinted, looking over the top of her glasses.  "That?" she croaked, "that's a sword.  Your mama carried that on stage....  She was a sight to behold in the most expensive costume ever made...."

Lucy, ever the bravest of the three, approached the shelf and picked up something that must have once been some kind of food.  She grimaced and put it back down.  "Gross!" she said.  "Why do you have THAT?" 
"Young lady, I'll ask you to respect an old woman's memories.  That, if you must know, is one of Moo Goo Gai Pan's fortune cookies.  We sold them at the concession stand.  It still has a sticker on it, but you can't read it anymore."  She leaned back in the chair and smugly continued.  "And if you want to know more than that, you'll have to ask your mama!"

"What about me?  What about my dad?" asked Li'l J.  The old woman smiled.  "That whole shelf is full of stuff from YOUR dad's days on stage."  She was silent again, looking at the collection, measuring each memento in years and laughs.

"What about this?" asked Li'l J.  "I don't remember you ever talking about a space play."  He carefully picked up the dusty space craft.  "It's broken!" he exclaimed.  "It's only half here."  And then, his nose wrinkled, as something fell from it.  "Ew!  Why is there a bra hanging from it???"

The old woman face crinkled in yet another smile as she took the rocket from him, stuffed the undergarment back inside, and placed it back on the shelf.  "You had to be there, boy.  You had to be there."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A New "Best"?

It's show week.  There have been many times I've felt 'the Joy of Living' this week and thought I should write, but there were things to do, as you all well know.

The show Annie Play Will Do, by Scott Haan, is a good one.  It's very good.  We had our Dress to Impress performance in front of the kids' teachers, a few parents, some special guests on Tuesday and they literally lit up the stage.

Throughout rehearsal, I've long touted Ariel Urban's performance.  Her nuance as an actress, her facial expressions, her ability to do what I've tried to get many an actor to do before her and that is switch rapidly from one emotion to another.  I mean, it's more than just thinking inside, "I'm mad.  Now I'm pleading.  Now I'm frantic.  Now terrified."  She actually does it--you can hear it in her voice, her delivery, see it in her body language.  I think her performance here is nothing short of brilliant.  

However, others, whom in rehearsal were merely good, have come alive in front of the audience.  I'm speaking of Aubree Cole and Adam Lee.  Aubree has been with KidsPlay since she danced with us in the second grade.  She has been strong, steady, dependable.  She bleeds KidsPlay red and black.  She's had some really great roles, the most notable up to now has been that of Gladys in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  But in this show, as Rhonda/Annie, she has shown a bit of genius for comedy.  Yes, I directed her to do SOME of what she's doing on stage to bring Roy Hobbs to tears of laughter (while his own son is prancing around in a dress....), but she has taken my notes to a whole new level.  Her cavorting, her poses, her facial expressions, her delivery--omg, WHERE did this spotlight-hogging ham come from????  And she's hysterical.  

Adam Lee.  To quote Urban, dear lord.  I think I've created a monster.  This is, I think, his third show.  He had a modest part and unremarkable role in his first show.  In the second, he had a larger more central part.  He was an important part of the cast, but didn't really stand out.  In those shows, we worked on stuff like 'slow down', 'face the audience', 'enunciate'.  And now, here he is as Larry the Nerd (in Jesse Vetters' famous Maynard pants) and later as Buffalo 'Wikipedia' Bill sporting the taped nerd glasses as both characters and demanding that all eyes be on HIM.  He is a stitch in buckskin.  Hilarious.

Caymen LePere, in his last show with KidsPlay, has been yet another dependable bit-part player.  He of the quirky roles--Big Murray, Igor, the Butcher--now finds himself on stage with very few lines, but dressed as an orphan.  His long black hair french braided with pink bows and make-up on his face.  Look up 'good sport' in any phrase book and you'll see his photo.  His first laughs come slowly as people notice him, and then when he opens his mouth and answers his fellow orphan's question with his deep guy voice, the place simply erupts.  He puts to good use the lessons taught in this show, of face, timing, body language.  He makes the most of his stage time.

There are so many gems in this show, that I would be here writing for hours.  Rebekah McCartney, who wasn't even cast in the last show, is as nice, polite and quiet a girl as you could know.  Ramping her up to Rachel-Glee bossiness was a challenge.  We worked on it and worked on it and suddenly, she was there.  She plays opposite Jake Hobbs who also sat out the last show.  The entire production rests on the shoulders of this 7th grade girl and this 6th grade boy--both of whom had to hit the ground running to carry this show.  They are the new leadership of KidsPlay and I'm honored to get to work with them.

Maggie Brown, cast as the opposite gender (fun and funny for guys, but not so fun for girls, I think), demonstrating poise, timing, and the value of silence in her role as Elaine/Charlie Davenport.  She's as strong as actress as anyone on the stage.  Sarah Bolton as 'stuppid' Francine (and later Lily St. Regis) committing a death-penalty offense during the performance; Ian Cole, strong and fatherly as the principal; Savannah Coe, Hannah Holloway, Karter Petry in their supporting roles, their characters as individual as snowflakes.  

All the pieces are here.  A fantastically, wonderfully talented, diverse, strong group of kids.  KidsPlay.


And so.  The rumors begin.  They began backstage as whispers...and among the parents.  Is it?  Is it THAT good....?  The wind carries the whispering out and to the halls of the high schools where the honored royalty of KidsPlay shows past now strut their stuff on other stages.  IS it, is it, is it as good as that long-ago production of Altar Egos, long considered to be the high-water mark of KidsPlay performance?  Well, IS IT???  And that's the $5 question.  ;-)

The proof is on the stage.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Stages of Bad Theatre

I don't know whether it's because I missed the IU-VCU game in favor of attending a high school play or if this--yet another poor excuse for a production--was simply the last straw in a long string of theatrical disappointments, but it occurred to me this evening that--as there are Five Stages of Grief--there are likewise Five Stages of Bad Theatre.  Read on.

The Five Stages of Grief go like this:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  The Five Stages of Bad Theatre go like this:  Optimism, Benefit of the Doubt, Laughter, Endurance, Anger. 

Optimism Stage
This is why we continue to go.  We constantly hold out hope that the next production isn't going to be like the last.  In fact, we've really forgotten that last production, sort of like forgetting how awful childbirth is, how awful a hangover is, how awful you felt after you ate the whole thing.....  I mean, surely it wasn't as bad as we remember, right?  We were just...over-critical, that's all.  And so forward we go.

Benefit of the Doubt Stage
The show starts--ten minutes late.  I learned at drama school (from Mr. Wurger) that if the show doesn't start within seven minutes of curtain, then theatre etiquette dictates that you may, if you like, ask for a refund.  I've thought of this many times, but never actually enacted it.  In most theatre, it is NOT a good sign.  It generally means that something is amiss backstage.  We may never know what it is or it may become painfully clear as the production slogs forward.  The Benefit of the Doubt Stage can sometimes last into mid-act, but most often it wraps up within the first ten minutes.  By then, you've had a chance to appraise the set, the costumes, size up character (or lack thereof), evaluate general production values and, sadly, the theatrical standards of all involved.  You emit a sigh as long as the air deflating from a balloon and move into....

The Laughter Stage
In this stage, you give up all hope that you're going to be engaged in and entertained by the actual production, and you look for other things to amuse you.  Poorly (or never) rehearsed, special effects, for example (the fog machine will set off the smoke alarm--who knew?); costuming details that would have taken very little to correct (the king was wearing Chuck Taylors--very middle ages); set anomalies that cause confusion (all the bare wood made it look more like a construction site than the interior of an aristocrat's mansion....); bobbled lines (which aren't nearly so entertaining as the cast's reaction to them).  Anything and everything--and before long, EVERYTHING is funny.  You've got your hand clamped over your own mouth and you're fighting a losing battle to not make eye contact with the poor fool who accompanied you to this fiasco.

The Endurance Stage
Comes after intermission.  You and your companion(s) have relieved yourselves of long-suppressed laughter (outside and around the corner of the building) and eventually regained your composure in time for another entire act.  It is sometime during this stage that it becomes an event to endure.  You read through your playbill [again], you look at your watch, you look at the people in the audience.  How many more scenes, how many more songs?  You look at your phone.  You check your email.  Facebook.  Play Words with Friends.  And sigh.

The Anger Stage
Although Anger is the second stage in the stages of grief, it is the final stage in the Stages of Bad Theatre.  You grow irritated.  It's definitely NOT funny anymore and it becomes an annoyance.  By God, this is ENOUGH!!  Why did I not leave at intermission?  Why am I even still here???  These are the precious moments of my life and I will NEVER get them back.  Think of what I COULD be doing instead of sitting through this theatrical holocaust.  And when the lights finally go down just before the curtain call and everyone rises for the [WHA-A-A--TTT????] standing ovation, you grab your companion's hand and bolt from the theatre.  You burst out of the building, gasping for fresh air, and stagger to your car.  Free at last.  Your time is own again.  But lesson learned?  Sadly, probably not.... 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Kids of KidsPlay

Sitting here this morning, pouring over the audition forms, the notes I took, the several lists I've made and reflecting on what a wonderful, magical, full-of-surprises, delightful life I lead.

See, there's this group of kids I know.  They fancy themselves to be theatre kids.  They are--to the bone.

We had auditions last night for our show.  I sat through an hour of prepared audition pieces, followed by dance auditions, followed by two sets of readings.  It was a process that has gone chaotically in the past, but went as smoothly last night as it's ever gone.  And I couldn't be happier. 

See, I've been concerned about the state of KidsPlay for the past few months.  Auditions for our previous show were lackluster and unmemorable.  Many of the so-called 'prepared' audition pieces were clearly thrown together at the last minute.  I sensed an aura of complacency, of parts being taken for granted.  That mentality continued until the last couple weeks of rehearsal with lines yet unlearned, a cavalier approach to rehearsal, an underlying attitude of 'way too much fun'and not enough of 'the reason we're here'.  However, after an evening of individual 'come to Jesus' meetings (as we used to say in IPS), they managed to get serious and pull it out in the last week with flawless execution, brilliant timing, and dare I say 'show-stopping, encore performances...'?

Still, the touch-and-go situation of our fall show made me seriously reconsider what I'd been planning for our spring show.  It was to be a challenging show needing top-of-the-line performances, work ethic, and dedication.  And maturity.  Did I have that this this group?  From what I'd seen and experienced with the fall show, I didn't think so.

I fretted long over the spring show selection, looked at my choices, weighed my options.  Decided first one show, then changed my mind.  And changed it again.  And finally went back to my original choice. 

And that brings us to auditions last night.  It was a complete turn-around from the fall show auditions.  Kids were there to prove they deserved parts.  They were prepared.  They were quiet, respectful of each others' auditions.  They came to show what they were made of.

Auditions are supposed to go from 6-8:30.  Ours ran until 9:20.  I sent some home, then rotated people through parts, and rotated them through again.  Those who knew they were in contention for lead roles sat right at the edge of the stage and watched what their competition was doing.  They watched me, and what made me laugh, and they ramped it up.  They took direction and suggestions.  It was, in all ways, exactly what an audition should be.

And I lead a lucky, fortunate, blessed life, rich in rewards.  Because I know these kids.  And I get to cast my show from them.  I get to work with them to create a wonderful piece of comedy that will, of course, be the best show ever.  They think they're all that, and well they should.  Because they are.  The kids of KidsPlay.