For KayTar, it was the first activity she has ever participated in like a "normal" kid. No accommodations. No on-site nurse. No complex medical plans. Just regular kid participation! Yes, it was harder for her than the other kids. Yes, she missed two out of 6 performances. But she DID IT! She performed just like all of the other kids and had a GREAT time doing it. One night after the show, the costume designer came up to us and said, "She is not shy AT ALL! You've sure got her in the right place for THAT!" So true! She fit right in with this crew. She made lots of friends in the young company during their hours backstage together, she made herself well-known among the high school kids, too. Often we would walk down the hall after a show and a high-schooler would say hello or goodbye to her by name. She ate that up, of course! She had the BIGGEST crush on Dodger and I could always find her in vocal warm-ups by spotting Dodger's top hat...I knew she wouldn't be far from him! After watching the movie version of Oliver!, she told me, "I like the Dodger in the play so much better. He's SO manly!" So before the next show, I told Dodger what she said and he laughed and said, "Oh my gosh, that is AWESOME." On the last night of the play, she was sitting one person away from him in warm-ups and she leaned over the girl between them (possibly his girlfriend?) and said, "Dodger. You are SO manly." It was hilarious. We made sure that he signed her poster and he even wrote her a little note...most of the big kids just signed their name, so she felt really special. Then he had her sign HIS poster, which she loved. After, as he was walking away, she shouted, "Thanks! I couldn't have done it without you!!" It was priceless! She also fawned over Nancy...all of the girls did, actually. She would walk by and they would all touch her or hug her or shout, "Nancy!!!" The stars of the ply might as well have been really Hollywood movie stars as far as the kids were concerned! During circle on the last night (everyone holds hands in a big circle, arms crossed right over left, and people take turns saying encouraging things or what the play has meant to them), KayTar got to hold hands with Nancy! She was in heaven. She also spoke that night and said something like, "I think we are doing a great job...and I think we can really do ANYTHING, with the power of helping." After the show, she got all of the stars' signatures, her friends' signatures, and even the signatures of the guests who came to see her that night! Now her poster is proudly displayed right by her bed and I am certain it will be an experience she will never forget! She is still listening to the CD and acting out ALL the parts on a daily basis.
As for BubTar, I was shocked by just how much he LOVED being a part of this production. He's a shy guy until you get to know him and I did not think he would take to being on the stage like he did. He listened to the CD every night, he lamented the fact that the high school kids got all the good parts, and he worked on a special bow for curtain call that he perfected over the course of the shows (a little bow with a special twirling of his cap). He never grumbled about practices or performances. He made friends backstage and he just felt at home! He has done a lot of different activities over the years; swim team, basketball, baseball, karate, scouts...but none of them made him light up like this did. On the last night, he said he almost cried when he changed out of his costume for the last time! Doesn't that just squish your heart a little? He's kind of the odd man out at school; smart, shy, well-behaved, but he finally found somewhere he "belongs" with this experience. It was wonderful him to see a group of kids, teenagers, and adults all working as a team, passionate about the same things. He's planning to do choir in middle school and start theater once he gets to junior high and high school. He enjoyed it so much that tonight he will be trialing a local musical theater class for kids. If he likes it, he has agreed for the lessons to be part of his upcoming birthday gift.
It was a wonderful experience for ALL of us, even Josh and I. Yes, the schedule was craziness for a month or so. Yes, it was craziness wrangling all those kids backstage. Yes, we are perpetually singing/humming/whistling the songs from the show. (One night I was walking through the house while singing a verse of "It's a Fine Life" and when it got to the part where the cast does an echo of the line, all three of the other people in the house, all in different rooms, sang back in unison, "It's a fine life!") But the benefits of the experience were huge for the kids and we genuinely enjoyed being a part of the show, too. I think we will all miss it a little!
|That is a turkey, FYI.|