Well, it’s finally that time within any show season where I can gulp enough air to sit down an write a little something. So here goes nothing…

I’m going to try and start with something I hope inspires you a bit and brings some parent pride as you read. I wish all of you could be a part of the rehearsal process for Alice in Wonderland. I wish you all had an opportunity to see some of the incredible growth in each of the students since September. The journey has been fraught with challenges and full of proud parent moments.

To try and give you a little bit of context of what your students have faced, we historically have about 13 weeks to prepare for the fall show. With how things worked out on the calendar this year we have had 10 weeks. Not only have we had 3 less weeks to prepare for Alice we had an unprecedented opportunity to partner with composer Michael Allen Harrison on original music for our show. So, not only did the students have 3 fewer weeks to prepare, they now had to learn music on top of that. Oh, and we can’t forget we threw in some choreography for them, because they aren’t doing enough as it is, right? 🙂

We lost a total of 48 hours of additional rehearsal time due to quarantines, students unavailable for scheduled rehearsals, some students needing to step away from the show and multiple students having to adjust, learn new roles and step into different responsibilities. To try and accommodate this every shifting landscape the master calendar adjusted weekly, adding additional uncertainty to everything. We lost a professional scenic designer and a sound designer and several volunteers as we worked our way through vaccine mandates, allowing myself and several students to take on those responsibilities.

Additionally, we have had lots and I can’t emphasize this enough, lots of off-stage drama. It’s theater. There’s drama in drama. It’s the nature of the job. If I’m being 100 here, the drama this time around has been the most intense I’ve ever experienced in my 14 years of education and 20 years in the theater industry.

I’ve come to realize throughout this process that many of us are still learning be around each other again. Many of us are still learning how to be in other people’s space and how to have other people in our space. Many of us are still adjusting to pre-COVID social norms and trying to read body language and facial expressions when most of us can only see each other’s eyes. It’s not always easy stepping back into society, especially high school society after 18-20 months out of the loop. We still have growth to do in this area, AND…and…we’ve come a long way.

AND…to continue to frame this gravy train, of the roughly 25 student production and design members of Alice 16 have never done a La Salle show before OR a high school show before. Of the 27 actors on stage 17 are in their first La Salle show. [This fits in line with the unprecedented world we are living in…our historical average of new students in a show is 3-6; and with this show the vast majority are learning all of this from scratch.

Why do I share this? Because I think it’s important to have a few paragraphs of context to frame how FAR this group has come this fall. Those of you who have had a chance to see the show and see what our students are doing on stage, in spite of…and in some cases BECAUSE of everything they’ve had to work through to get to this moment. Any success they have throughout this show is earned success, earned by trial and tribulation. They have faced a process in which almost anything that can go wrong has gone wrong and have persevered to tell an engaging and beautiful story last weekend and to continuing telling that story this weekend.

The hardships this group has faced, the adversity they’ve worked through and the heights they’ve reached in their performance reminds me of how deeply grateful I am and how incredibly lucky I am to work with them. I can say with complete confidence that you would be so proud of your kiddos and how they’ve dealt being the trenches these past two months.

NOW…

On to some updates and news you can [hopefully] use:

1.) Alice in Wonderland closes this weekend. We have three more performances. Friday and Saturday, curtain at 7pm and Sunday, curtain at 2pm. Actor and crew call times for these days are the same as last weekend.

2.) After our Sunday matinee we historically spend about an hour after the audience leaves, sharing food, potluck style, recapping the show, handing out gifts and thank you to everyone. I’d love for as many of you as are available to be a part of this brief celebration honoring each other and this show we’ve just wrapped.

Here’s the link to RSVP for attending and to bring food: Alice Wrap Up Potluck

3.) Monday, November 15 is a mandatory strike for all cast and crew. 3:30 – 5:30pm Of course, you are all welcome to join us! If a strike is new to you, it’s basically the day we clean up everything and get the theater ready for the next show. Students will be assigned to different crews such as dressing room clean up, set deconstruction, costumes being collected, mended and put back in storage, etc. Everyone is assigned to a different crew and we get as far as we can get in those 2 hours after school. Technically November 15th is the last day of the “show” and the last required day for cast and crew.

3.5) Speaking of the show, a gentle reminder for all of us. The backstage area and especially dressing room area of the theater is strictly off limits for folks who are not cast and crew and adult staff. The space backstage is an active work space and we need to be able to keep our students safe by knowing who is and isn’t backstage. Even if a student invites folks backstage, [they shouldn’t, we’ve had this conversation,] 🙂 The space is only for cast, crew and adults working on the show. Thank you.

4.) And with a very short turn around we will be hosting our first benefit of the year on Wednesday, Nov. 17 @ 7:00pm in the theater. This event is called All Together Now! and is being produced internationally by Music Theater International as the sponsor and developers of a night of Broadway music, dancing and celebration. Roughly 5,000 high schools in the United States ALONE will be performing All Together Now! this next week. Hence the quick turn-around. The only time schools have permission to perform these songs are between Nov. 12 – 17. Tickets are $5 at the door, or a donation in the giving jar and all proceeds go directly to supporting La Salle theater mainly in the form of scholarships for students. This event is being organized by the students of La Salle’s chapter of the International Thespian Honor Society. I encourage all of you who are able to come out on Wednesday, November 17 and support our students in a pretty laid, back, open mic style night of music and dancing. It’s our last programmed event until after the New Year and a celebratory way to enter the holiday season.

Additionally Sonja Saporito is organizing an online auction portion of this event with some really, really cool items. More details coming soon.

5.) Speaking of holiday season Mr. Wild and the La Salle Choir and Guitar students will be hosting their annual Christmas Concert in the theater on December 16. It is always a festive and joyous way to wrap up before the Winter Break and I hope you are all able to attend.

6.) For those who have students so inclined, auditions for our next production will be in December. Stay turned for more information. The Gifted by Tommy Johnstone and directed by Aaron Leonard-Graham will run the first two weekends of February 2022. It’s a story about high school students in a gifted program with meaningful themes such as forgiveness and redemption. It’s going to be a powerful piece.

7.) Our students travelling to London are well underway. While most spots are filled there are a few remaining spots if you or your student would like to join us. For more information check out this parents portal or reach out to me directly. This is a first come first serve as we can only guarantee 2 more spots on the trip. https://www.eftours.com/educational-tour/london-theater

8.) I would like to wrap up this post with a heart felt thank you to all of you. Thank you for all of your support, from those of you who have volunteered in roles such as box office and backstage supervision. Those who have donated time, and food and resources, those who have given words of encouragement and edification, those who have adjusted schedules to accommodate your student getting to and from rehearsals, thank you. Doing theater takes a village and none of this would be possible without all of you and your support. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’ll leave you with something some of the actors and I were talking about this past week. “Theater is an act of faith. We get a bunch of strangers in a room, the lights go out, and we all dream the same dream…and sometimes, like magic, that dream can change the world.”

Thanks Everyone