This week, Bye Bye Birdie performs at the Armstrong Theater in Torrance. As with all the theater productions I do, it’s another kids’ show!
It will be a good show. There are some really talented, experienced kids, along with some talented new kids, and some others that shall we say need to work a little harder. But the combination of this great cast, and great directing, is producing a great result.
But what strikes me about this production is kind of a wave of nostalgia. Four years ago, this same organization did this same show, and my daughter Courtney played the lead role of “Kim Macafee.” She’s moved on past theater these days, but she still decided to drop in at the theater tonight to say hi to her old musician dad, and even she felt the same sense of nostalgic sweetness as she watched one of her great scenes being played by someone else – someone who wasn’t even involved in the program yet when Courtney played the role four years ago.
It’s exciting to watch kids who are now 16, 17 or 18, who began in this program when they were 8 or so, unable to carry a tune or hold down a significant part on stage – now performing huge roles with lots of lines to learn, and lots of singing and dancing. They’ve literally grown up on that stage.
At the same time, it’s fun to see this wave of newer, little ones, who have the same look our veteran kids had several years ago. Eventually, some of those kids who play a lot of crowd scenes now will have their shot at the big roles as well.
We watched and have been there as kids have dealt with family crises – there have been some seroius illnesses and a few parents have died, there have been a few ugly family breakups, and several kids have gone into scary directions as teenagers. I’ve also watched as each production produces more little “couples” – so and so is “dating” someone in the cast, and the romance generally only lasts until the production is over, but it’s the most important thing in life at the time.
We’ve also seen sorrows, as well as joys, among the staff members of Starlight Productions; illnesses, a few weddings, college graduations, and I have to also point out – several people involved in Starlight have either become followers of Jesus, or have renewed commitments they made a long time ago.
I may have mentioned this before, but just in case – I’m not a theater guy. These kids’ shows are the only theater productions I’ve been involved with and for them to call me the “musical director” is pretty generous. I do what I can, bring in friends to play other instruments, and whatever we do to help the show is more than offset by how much fun we have playing together.
But although I’m not a theater guy, I can see the value in what this organization brings to our community. I’ve seen kids who were too shy to have a conversation grow up to be confident young adults. A few of our kids have gone on to professional roles.
Anyway, playing this show again this week, and having the Lovely Miss Courtney drop in and see someone else play her old part, just got me thinking. These have been great years.