Week of Anticipation

Actually, my son’s drama group calls it hell week: the final days before opening night. Oh, I know why they call it that. It is a whole week of rising before the sun to stumble onto the school bus, a week of classes, homework and tests. Then, with scarcely two hours break, they are back at the school to rehearse until midnight. They will all very likely be bleary eyed zombies by Friday, staff and students alike. But beneath the exhaustion, something else will grow. Quietly at first, but bigger each day.

Costumes will be worn on Monday. Suddenly, you are not the person you have always been. In the mirror, a stranger has taken your place. Yet, not truly a stranger. Over the weeks and months, you have come to know this person. It is a reflection of you, but a you that was unknown until now. You take a deep breath and stare into the eyes of the one you have become. Then you walk on stage into a strange new world.

Hair and makeup will be added on Tuesday. The pit orchestra begins to play. Suddenly it all seems real. Those little butterflies will begin to churn. The spotlights are hot and the smell of greasepaint perfumes the air. Stagehands, dressed head to toe in black, rush back and forth moving props and changing scenes. Voices lifted in song and dramatic speech soar out into the empty theater.

Then . . . opening night. No Broadway theater can compete with the thrills and tingles of that intense pause before the curtain rises. The lights go dark, there is a breathless hush. Then the orchestra begins to play. A precisely the right time, the curtain opens to reveal a scene; a scene that for the next few hours becomes more real than the world waiting outside. There is laughter, tears, then the applause, that glorious applause that makes all the long hours, the aching feet, the tears of frustration and forgotten lines, it is all worth it.

It may be just a local high school, the stage peopled by teens and tweens, but for 2 nights for 3 hours, it is magic.

Break a leg, Sam!

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Endless Winter

“Grandpa, what is Spring?” The young boy looked up from his book, a puzzled expression on his face.

“What do you mean, Josh?” Grandpa peered over the tops of his reading glasses.

“Well, this book I’m reading talks about Spring and has all these pictures of stuff I’ve never seen.” Josh lifted his book high so that Grandpa could see the colorful pictures. Grandpa leaned closer squinting just a little. A small sigh escaped his lips.

“Come over here, boy, and lets have a look.” Josh stood up from his pillow near the fire and climbed onto his grandpa’s lap lugging the big book behind him. 001He opened the book to the first page where “Winter” was written in fancy silver script.

“See, Grandpa, here is the part about winter, I know all about that.” Josh turned several pages until the word “Spring” appeared written in pale green. “This is the part I don’t understand. What are all these colorful things on the first page?”

“Josh, those are flowers. See, this little purple one is a crocus, then the tall yellow ones are daffodils and the red ones are tulips.” Grandpa stroked his fingers gently over the smooth pages. “Those flowers were the first ones of the growing season. They meant that Spring was really here.”

The boy looked up into the wrinkled face of Grandpa. “Were they really that pretty?”

“Oh yes, and they smelled good, too. There were lots of kinds of flowers and in all shapes and sizes.”079 (4)

“Hmm.” Josh wasn’t sure he believed Grandpa, but didn’t want to be rude and say so. “What are these things here?”

“Those are trees.”

Josh looked closer. They kind of looked like trees, at least he could see the sturdy brown trunks and there were some pine trees he recognized.

“But what is the green fluffy stuff on top of them?”

“Those are the leaves. They come out in the Spring, give us shade all Summer then turn bright colors in the Autumn before they fall to the ground.” Grandpa leaned back in his chair and stared into the flames dancing in the fireplace.

“How come I have never seen things like flowers and leaves.” Josh stared up at Grandpa, checking for that little grin that told him that his grandpa was teasing. “Are you sure you are telling me the truth, Grandpa?”

“My boy, it is because you were born in the time of Endless Winter. It was the year that Spring never came, nor Summer nor Autumn.” Grandpa turned to look 022out the window at the bleak landscape, nothing but snow, ice and frozen trees as far as the eye can see. “Someday, Spring will come again and you will see.”

“Will it be in my lifetime, Grandpa?” Josh looked excitedly at his book once more. What would it be like for real and not on a page in a picture book?

“I hope so, boy.” Grandpa settled back and stared at the fire once more. “I hope so.”040 (9)