I’m a stay-at-home mom now.
But in my former life as a choral director, the annual spring Broadway musical was always my favorite time of year. I loved it because I didn’t have to be in charge of the whole thing (the Fine Arts director called all the shots), but as I was responsible for teaching the kids their songs, accompanying rehearsals, and playing piano in the pit orchestra, I got to be super-involved in seeing the students put their talents together in a production that was bigger than themselves. Plus, with my dad as the technical production director, I got to spend lots of (late-night) quality time with him!
Last year’s show was Little Women, a 2005 Broadway musical based on the Louisa May Alcott book. We had an all-star cast, unreal set, phenomenal orchestra, and a real kite that flew magnificently (thanks to my dad).
I had barely reached my second trimester by the time rehearsals were underway, and one particular afternoon practice session stands out in my memory. It was with some upper-classmen cast members who I’d been teaching since they were in middle school.
We were doing the usual – drilling notes, learning parts, adding dynamics, etc, and the room was electric with excitement as the students were sharpening each others’ skills. I could hear the Lord making something truly special out of these little individual offerings of talent that were being put together! This was what I loved so much about this project each year! And oh, how I would miss doing this next year!
That was when I lost it. No kidding. What started as a few tears in my eyes quickly escalated into full-blown sobbing in the ladies’ room. One of the girls came in to check on me and make sure I was okay, and when I returned to rehearsal, the kids asked (jokingly), “Were we that bad???” But I just didn’t want to leave! I knew that having a baby was wonderful and special and everyone said it would be “worth it,” but at the moment I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else besides that little choir room!
So, later that year when the Fine Arts director announced that she would also not be returning, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer to come back a few afternoons a week to help with the next year’s play. There would be a new choral director who would be technically in charge of the musical, but I’d be able to be involved as the vocal director. I’d get to be there working with my old kids for auditions, some rehearsals, the retreat, dress rehearsal week, and two or three adrenaline-rushing performances. And, somewhat importantly, I’d get paid a little.
Which brings me to this week, the official beginning of rehearsals! Mr. Poole is able to watch our little girl on Fridays, and my mom covers Wednesdays. There was a bit of a transition for Julia, adjusting to being away from her mommy, and having a new schedule that allows me to be away from home for 3 hours twice a week. But what a thrill to be standing behind the piano in the choir room again! This year, we’re doing the revised and recently-revived “Godspell,” by Stephen Schwartz (who also wrote the music to “Wicked.”) Not only is it awesome because the libretto is based 100% on the book of Matthew, but I am SO loving the Glee-caliber vocals and the rock-style accompaniment. And I think the students are, too.
It’s so fun being back in the saddle, just a few hours a week! I’m really lucky that I got to be a mommy and still keep the absolute best part of my job, which includes building relationships with students. After all, on May 3rd, Godspell will be over. But the relationships we’ve built along the way will last forever!