I had quite the experience on Friday that reaffirmed “why we do this” in a one on one rehearsal with one of my children’s theatre kids who I have worked with for the last 7 summers. We have worked closely together for years, and as this “kid” (now a 16 going on 17 year old rising junior in high school) began his normal stalling routine to avoid warming up his upper range he started reminiscing about shows past. I was shocked to discover he still remembered his tap choreography and all the words to a solo he performed 4 years ago, which he proceeded to perform. He then went through much of his old rep. Including telling me where all the set pieces were on stage for countless productions. This is a kid who would from year to year be on the fence if he was even going to do the show, and would coast into auditions acting like he had no clue and then blow it away, he had clearly been practicing despite telling everyone he wasn’t going to do the show.
To be completely honest, on some level I am surprised he has stuck around this long, he is a super talented athlete who lives for his sport. There are times where he really could have gone either way, but it has been exciting watching him grow as both an actor and a person over the last few years. His friends at home didn’t even know he did theatre in the summer until this year when he auditioned for his school musical (after a long phone call from me urging him to do it) and got a principle role as a sophomore with a huge cast of mostly upperclassmen.
One of the things that stuck with me from the mini (half hour or so) blast from the past private concert I got in lieu of our scheduled rehearsal (he has always been good with stalling), was that he kept stressing that “How could I have forgotten any of it when you spent so many hours drilling it in my head. I know when it’s right but I also know when it’s wrong and needs to be fixed.” He seemed very surprised that I was shocked he remembered it all. He said he remembers everything and I don’t doubt it after watching him in action. It was amazing to hear him sing songs he hadn’t performed since before his voice changed. It would be incredible to watch him do the full version of some of the Broadway Junior shows we did over the years today… and I hope for his sake he gets the opportunity for a “do over” on some of those roles. Notes that were a stretch a few years ago have become his “go to’s” and money notes. I think he is finally able to admit to himself and own the fact that he does love performing. He certainly wouldn’t keep coming back for 3-8 hour rehearsals or more during his summer vacation if he didn’t.
From a teaching standpoint, this was really gratifying to hear. As a teacher you feel like most of the time people aren’t actually listening to you, or they are listening but it isn’t sticking. In rehearsals I am constantly giving the same notes over and over again, sometimes with little to no change in the performance. I have been questioning what I want to do in the future recently, and moments like this help me to realize I am still on the right track.
So thank you, for making my week, listening and applying what I have “pounded into your head” for all these years, and most of all, thanks for not turning into a punk and sticking with it; your passion, dedication and drive make it all worth it.