Friday, December 3, 2010

Opening Night! It's Opening Night!

Tonight is opening night for the Reagle Music Theatre’s annual production of “It’s ChristmasTime”! This is my third year performing in the show (I missed last year because I was busy giving birth and all that), and it has really become one of the main kickoffs of the holiday season for me.

The first time I did the show, Herb and I had only been dating for a few months. He had done the show a number of times previously, and really wanted to perform in it that year, but he admitted that the rehearsal schedule for the two weeks before the show and the performance schedule for the two weekends of shows was time-consuming enough that he didn’t want to do it unless I did it with him, since otherwise we wouldn’t be able to spend much time together. So I agreed, and dug an audition piece out of my repertoire, polished it up, and proceeded to totally plotz over it. Herb kept assuring me that I’d be fine and I shouldn’t even worry about it, but being the somewhat tightly-wound person that I am, I drove myself crazy, and then after the brief (probably about 60-second) audition and the official nod of approval, I wondered what I had been so nervous about.

For first-time performers, there’s an awful lot to learn. Some of the Christmas carols are familiar, but some are new and even the familiar ones are often unfamiliar arrangements or unusual harmonies. Some of the numbers have a bit of choreography, as well: step-touch here, raise your hands there, turn out to the audience on this word, turn off your candle on that. Nothing too complicated, but one more detail thrust into a brain that’s already full to overflowing. And then you need to know the order of the numbers and what you’re wearing in each – including shoes, hose, jewelry, and props. Herb made me a CD of a pervious performance and I kept it in my car at all times, listening carefully so I could pick out the correct harmony line and be sure I was singing what I was supposed to be. Herb reassured me over and over that it was okay if I forgot some of the words, and that people would nudge me into the right position or whisper the upcoming choreography if I needed it, but I was determined to get everything right all on my own. (Of course, I screwed up all over the place, but at least I made the effort. And Herb was right, nobody noticed.)

And yet, somehow I was able to get past my nerves and apprehension and enjoy being on stage with Herb. The singers are paired off for many of the numbers, and it was always reassuring to have my hand firmly tucked into Herb’s, knowing he’d be sure I was in the right place at the right time. I could see how much he was enjoying being on stage, and his pleasure made me enjoy being on stage, too. I remember watching him during a few of the men’s numbers and just enjoying his calm stage presence, listening to his wonderful voice and watching him come alive with the audience’s reaction. I fell even more deeply in love with him during those shows, if that was even possible.

And so now, after doing the show a few more times, I still get that new-love flutter in my heart when he catches my eye and takes my hand before we make our first entrance together. I still beam like a lovesick teenager when he puts on his sunglasses and grins impishly at the audience at the beginning of “Little Saint Nick”. And my heart still melts as he interacts with the children who come onstage for the sing-along. I remember the first time I saw that and I thought, “I wonder what he’ll be like with our children?” Because now I know exactly what he’s like. And it’s even better than I’d imagined.

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