I went because it was Easter. I went because I love the music. I went because I wanted to see the inside of Ten West. I went because I knew a couple of kids in the show....blah, blah, blah. A longer list of reasons to go than not to go....so I did.
Godspell. Done and redone. Especially around Easter. As it should be. Godspell and Superstar are sometimes the only pseudo-religious education today's individual gets. Nevertheless, a nostalgic show for me; one that tends to leaves me homesick for the friends who shared that time in my life and for the teenager who played and played and played her vinyl copy of that musical throughout the 70s and early 80s.
Ten West. Clean. Compact. Impressive what they've done with their space. Getting the maximum potential out of the facility, to be sure. Seating for over 100. Ceiling fans, windows covered by cloth to keep out unwelcome daylight for matinee performances. Curtains for backstage and cast-and-crew only areas.
Technically pretty tight. Decent lighting; good variety; a mix of recorded and live music; clever use of technology in the opening video sequence.
And this is where the detached analysis ends. What happened next, when the eight teenaged cast members took the stage, was the stuff of theatre magic, and I knew I was witnessing something special.
No, no, they're not bound for Broadway or anything like that. The show could have used some polish...some microphone help...some minor details...but what set it apart from the myriad of productions of Godspell that came before it was the vibe given off by the cast up there singing and dancing their hearts out.
This was Ten West's first real production, put together by a bunch of Little Rascals-style teenagers and one patriarch with vision. It doesn't take much to imagine the initial conversation: "We can sing. We can dance. We love theatre and we got this stage! WE CAN DO THIS THING!!!" And by Jove and Dionysus, they did. The joy and the passion and energy that these kids radiated was a delight to breathe in. New young air, an oxygen-based fountain-of-youth to weary and jaded spirits. That kind of air makes you sit up a little straighter, open your eyes a little wider, and make a mental note to watch a sunrise in the near future. It reminded me well of the first production with my peers in the not so-so long ago--the love-fest that was the last week of rehearsal and performance were both surreal and almost holy, the sense of what we were creating together there. Together.
This was the same. Same energy, same exhilaration, same sense of the wonder of it all. As I remember that first production, long will these oh-so-talented kids remember this experience: the joy, confidence, the cohesive, collaborative, chemistry of being at the top of their game; teenagers on the edge of adulthood and all that it brings. Teenagers with as sure an understanding of who they are and who they aspire to be that it boggles the mind in these uncertain times. Teenagers who radiate confidence like the warmth of the first spring day in March.
It's always something special, that first production, the heady high that comes from an appreciative audience, the world of possibilities that opens up when you realize for the first time that, yes, you can. You CAN. And isn't it wonderful? Isn't it? I know it is. And thank you. Thank you, Cameron, Derek, Lainy, Lindsey, Ryan, Sarah, Shelby, Stephani, Matt, Andrew and Paul for sharing your rejuvenating, life-affirming moment with the rest of us.