Monday, February 18, 2013

How Lucky I Am

Before I get caught up again in the nerves and stress of next weekend's Greenfield Idol Finals, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank the top-notch members of my Greenfield Idol planning committee.  All of you--from the decorators, to the ticket seller, stage manager, and vote counters, to the judges and entertainment, the emcee, the KidsPlay ushers and runners, and the concessions folks--all played an integral part in making Saturday's Semi-Final round come together and run as smoothly as it did.  

Lisa who lent her 'insider perspective' to the planning, ran down great fill for the swag bags, and took some great photos (!).  Julia and Chris, who decorated the lobby, brought me cookies, and made me laugh hysterically with some behind-the-scenes stories.  Renita, who is always willing to fill in wherever she is needed be it decorating, backstage, or videoing (!!).  Corey, a calm voice of reason and practicality, counting the votes.  Oh, and Jim, who devised our vote-tallying spreadsheet!  Trever, the unflappable, natural-born emcee who paced and measured the show.  Chris, the ever-positive encourager, counting votes, selling tickets in the lobby to latecomers.  Catherine, Queen of the Concessions.  I need never worry that we'll run out of Snickers.  Frances and Adrianna, selling tickets at the shop and showing up at the Dungeon and helping with the myriad of last-minute stuff before heading to the theatre.  Dennis, with his bright idea for the ear-bud, and last minute repairs on the sign, his wonderful videos, and his ALL of the other things he does as if Idol was his life's work.  Oh, and Diane and Scott, who made our beautiful Greenfield Idol sign last year.  And all of the KidsPlayers who helped out:  Maggie, the runner; Lucy, Ellie, Ian, Jordyn, Grace and Lauren; and Adrianna, again.  This show was for you, you know--when you get ready to launch your college theatre careers, KidsPlay will be there to help out.  :-)  And to our judges--Mark, Nancy, Katie, Anne--who gave up a Saturday night to come and judge Greenfield Idol--the smiles on your faces told me you clearly enjoyed yourselves.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I realize anew how lucky I am to work with such dedicated and committed people, all of whom know their role in 'the KidsPlay machine' and know how to make it work.  I'm lucky that I have people around me with whom it's a truly enjoyable process to brainstorm on ideas and then work to improve on those ideas.  I'm surrounded by people who follow through on the commitments they make and go above and beyond in that commitment.  And I'm extremely grateful that the people around me are able to work with me, in the ups-and-downs of event planning, that they are there to nudge me on when I get stuck in a blue groove, and that they are there to share in the elation of success and a job well done.  

I am very lucky.  I know that.

Our main goal on Saturday was service:  making sure our judges were treated like royalty; making sure our contestants received star treatment; and that our audience saw a flawless and professional-grade production.  I think we accomplished that goal--and it's because of all of you.

How lucky I am.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Just Getting Started

Reflecting on a amazing rehearsal with the KidsPlayers last night.  I'm pushing them pretty hard and they are rising to the occasion.

We work on accents.  Maggie has made great strides in reining in her tendency towards sounding like Eliza Doolittle.  It's clear she has done some outside work on it and that's impressive.  I do believe she could now pass for British aristocracy.   And although Colin was absent last evening, I have to commend him on his excellent Scottish accent.

We work on character.  The were-hyenas have to laugh constantly, but have to moderate their volume up and down to accommodate the continuing dialogue over the top of their laughter.  Keeping up that kind of laughter without hyper-ventilating can be tricky, but I know we're getting somewhere when I look back and see the parents smiling, caught up in the infectiousness of the constant giggling.

We work on timing.  The screaming Mummy comes in and she's so loud that the kids have trouble focusing.  We go over and over the scene, pushing it until the last word of of one character's speech overlaps with the first word of the next.  By the time we finish, Dr. Evil and Sherman and the Mummy have created a scene charged with dynamic energy that pops and crackles.

We work on physical comedy.  The Mummy gets pushed through a door that she doesn't want to go through.  In the course of it, she bumps her head, her arm gets scraped, fingers pinched in the door.  We work on it until it's a safe, but believable scene.  And it works.

We work on inflection--emphasize THIS word and not that.  We work on facial expression--a quick glance, an eye roll, look, don't look, look and look away.  We work on volume and speed of delivery--louder, then soft; say this faster and it will be funnier; slow that down so it sinks in to the audience.  All are pretty sophisticated concepts for actors as young as these and they get it.  They really do.

The trust is amazing.  I trust them to carry the role, to live up to the responsibility of lines, character, out-of-rehearsal work, and they trust me to make them funnier, better, to push them to the best they can be.

And really, we're just getting started, just getting warmed up.  This is gonna be one for the ages.  Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens.