Triumphant return

I woke up this morning, while still tired, with a more peaceful, easy feeling. Our first show back on our stage in two-and-a-half years was the success that I had envisioned. Last night, we opened our spring musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” It’s a show I’ve always loved and wanted to do, but it was always too small for our brimming Thespian Troupe 721 to mount. After all, there are only six roles and no written ensemble. Not the best pick when you have 50 kids clamoring to get in the spotlight.

Our show poster, designed by my producer, May Neils.

Since our pandemic/mold-and-asbestos hiatus since March 2020, where we literally shut down our production of “Footloose” a few weeks before opening (oh, the pain), we’ve done two virtual productions and one off-site drama. Our troupe suffered losses due to attrition, graduations, and generalized student withdrawal from being emotionally squeezed for too long. I had real fears that this troupe would have a hard time bouncing back. After all, I only had 8 people in my cast this year. However, we also had lots of behind-the-scenes kids come out as well; the seeds have been replanted and with patience, I will reap the rewards of a bustling program once again.

Sometimes, we have to recognize that whatever the situation, we have a few choices. We can bark and scream and panic and say how things are impossible, or we can look at the situation and make something out of it. Because my kids are worth it, I chose the latter. Last night, we were all rewarded by a socially-distanced audience who really appreciated that effort. They saw students taking ownership of their newly-learned jobs and roles, cogs in the machine that is high school musical theater. I’m shaking as I type because I am so excited that they get to wake up to the same feeling that I have today. Lemonade has been made.

It is for them that I continue to push through exhaustion, anxiety, fear and doubt. If I can do it, they learn that they can do it too. And they did. I told them in my pre-show speech that in that moment, they had to realize that they have been forever Changed for the Better. I look forward to someday interviewing some of these kids for my podcast. I will forever remember this year’s show as the one where Thespians rose from the ashes. We are the phoenix. Troupe 721’s legacy will continue.

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