Friday, February 27, 2009

Day Forty-Seven: Closing Night

First of all, I really intended not to write about Hero Squad tonight. However, this is my blog, and today was a pretty major milestone and discovery, and if I'm making a daily record of anything for the course of this past year, this really ought to be on it.

We had scheduled three performances per Friday for this particular run. We normally schedule two (one at 9:30 a.m. and one at 11:30 a.m.) and we frequently have trouble selling the early show, so it more often than not ends up getting canceled. In addition, we added Friday nights to this run, because the church that hosts our children's theater said that we couldn't be in there two Saturdays during the run, canceling four of our most profitable performance times, so we added Fridays to make it up.

With that said, due to the aforementioned fact that the 9:30 shows generally get canceled, this was the only week where we actually HAD three performances on our three-performance day. It also happened to be the last day of the run. That, my friends, is how a show like this one should go out.

We dragged a little bit through the first half of the first show, but picked it up quite nicely and finished strong with a house that was close to 80% full. That was nice, but nicer was my boss (direct supervisor, not supreme supervisor) finally came to see the show and really, really enjoyed it. Also got to speak with a woman and her two daughters who've been coming for three years and said that this was by far their favorite. And while it's true that somebody says that about every show, it's still an encouraging thing to hear.

Our second show was for a smaller crowd (though some twenty people larger than we had expected it to be) that was boisterous and enthusiastic throughout. A lot of our smaller crowds have also been our most vocal all throughout the run of the show; I'm not sure why that is but it's made it a pleasure to play for fewer people. (And, of course, it always helps when you have friends in the crowd, and we did!)

Our evening performance was near perfect. We were completely sold out and it was entirely families (instead of school groups), which give a broader range of experiences to the show--and to this particular script, the only way the audience can fully enjoy it is if the younger ones are there to help along their parents at points, and the parents are around to help along the younger ones, if that makes any sense to you. (And if you saw the show, it does)

Now, before the show, there were lots of sentiments being shared about who would miss the show, and who could keep on doing it for another few weeks at least, and who was kinda sad, etc. And actors were getting sentimental with me, which was absolutely fine and justified. This has been quite the journey for me, as I've been preparing this production (both the script and myself as an artist) for three full years now, and the payoff has been as grand as I could have hoped. I, however, really was able to stave off the mushy stuff pretty well. One last show, then we pack her up. Job well done was pretty much my mindset throughout the evening. (And it held up pretty well, too, until my danged stage manager said something over the phone as I was driving home that finally got me to start to tear up. So close!)

All that to prep for the show. This was easily one of the top three audiences in terms of appreciation. They applauded after literally every single scene. If I had gone all Broadway and milked the curtain call, we probably could have gotten a standing ovation from them, but I detest milking curtain calls, so it was over too quickly. Afterward, the crowd milled for a very long time, the line to greet the actors barely moving, people requesting pictures with their favorite heroes and villains, folks finding me and complementing the script and the direction (but mostly the dolphins). It's kinda like the way Billy Chapel goes out in the movie For Love of the Game. You really couldn't have asked for it any better.

And then we struck, and then we loaded all the costumes to our costume shop, and then Abby almost killed Hannah, and then we split up and went home.

Anyway, here's what I learned today:

This entire Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers experience has been amazing for me. From the early production meetings to tonite, I've loved every moment of it, even most of the frustrating ones. I can look back now and see God's timing in putting this production together for this time, for this group of people. I can see the things that I've learned just in the past three years that have equipped me to handle what this show became. I understand not only how ill-prepared both I and the script were for production back when I first wrote it, but also how this ensemble could only have come together in this slot for this season. And I'm grateful for every rewrite, every revision, every learning experience, every rehearsal, everything that got us to where we ended up. The amount of work that went into this production was massive, but the payoff was worth it.

And I realized how badly I want to do it again.

Not just direct again, because I knew I wanted that long before rehearsals started, and not just directing a good show again, because, well, duh. But when I do this again, I want the ability to look back and realize I and everyone else threw everything we could into something, and to see our work justified by our product. I want to build a show from zero, whether it's a script I write or not, and lay a foundation, and collaborate with other enthusiastic, artistic minds, all of whom refuse to settle for less than the best possible outcome, and then I want to get to the end of it and admire the house we built. I loved this show, but I love that this show is over, because now I can really step back and objectively do all of that. And THAT is what I want more of.

Whatever the next project is, I want so very badly to get to work on it.

With that said, I started a new script tonight. I doubt it will be as good a script as Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers, at least I don't expect it to be. But I will pour into it until it is everything that I can possibly make it. And I will be satisfied with it, and probably proud of it.

But make no mistake. When I write, or when I direct, what I really want, what I'm really looking for, is this. And this comes so rarely in theatre that I fully intend to soak up every waking moment of it that I can before heading off to sleep tonight.

P.S. Haven't re-read or edited any of this, and don't plan to, so some of it may be incoherent. Hm...sorry about that! My blog, not yours! ;-)