Iz Not Ded…….Agin

Over a month. Yeah, I stink. I know.

So, I’ve been wearing my photographer’s hat lately. Doing the musical, “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Taking 8 billion pictures and then having to process them, which consists of opening the RAW file in Lightroom and fixing white balance, exposure, sharpening. Then opening in Photoshop to pop the eyes, skin correction, crop and fine tune color. Finally, use Noiseware to fix whatever noise remains after taking the photos with high ISO. It’s a process that takes a very, very, very long time. But the results make me so happy.

For this show, I came to 3 rehearsals, 2 dress rehearsals and the pick-up rehearsal. Normally, I don’t do the pick-up, but I happened to be there with my camera and a bunch of understudies were filling in with the possibility of having to do the following night’s performance, so I stayed to get pictures in case they wanted them. One of the girls who’s a freshman was the understudy for the female lead and someone I’d taken show photos of all year. Since it’s highly unusual for a freshman to understudy a lead and even more unusual for that understudy to actually do a performance, I wanted to get those shots. Glad I did, because she actually ended up doing the role at the Saturday matinee. So now she will always have photos of the time she was the lead in the musical as a freshman. Wicked cool.

Anyway, I believe I took over 3,000 photos. I know I took 970 at the final dress alone and another 450 at the pick-up rehearsal, so I think 3,000 is a conservative estimate. After processing them all, I ended up with 722 photos that I printed out and uploaded for the kids to use & share on Facebook and order on Snapfish. Wow. I now have some serious carpal tunnel issues. I had to buy a wrist splint to use while I worked. I think it’s carpal tunnel. It might be tendinitis  though. On my right hand, my pinkie finger, especially at the knuckle where the finger meets my hand, hurts. The outside of both wrists ache. The base of both thumbs kills. I hate it. Makes it hard to hold the camera and impedes my ability to work as quickly as I’d like.

Before I talk about the play, I have to admit my wrongness. When I heard they were doing “Meet Me in St. Louis”, I was beyond disappointed. The show is so sweet you can feel the grit in your teeth. It’s completely constructed of treacle, jam and buttercream. The songs are songs like Skip to My Lou, If You Like-A Me, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Trolley Song and lots of others about how perfect life is and how much people love each other. I thought it was a horrible choice – boring, predictable, sentimental and coated with cheese. I felt this way right up until opening night. I found myself sitting in the audience that night, unable to stop smiling, tapping my feet and even having tears in my eyes. And I was MAD. I had to admit, I was wrong. The show turned out beautifully. The kids turned up the wattage, sang these songs wonderfully, portrayed the earnestness and simplicity without a hint of irony. I left the theatre so angry. Angry that I had to admit to myself that I was wrong. The theatre nerd in me wants these kids to do challenging & interesting work like West Side Story, Guys & Dolls, Anything Goes, Into the Woods or Sweeney Todd (the student edition – don’t panic) or actual classics like Inherit the Wind, Our Town or The Importance of Being Earnest. I thought the choice of St. Louis was a horrible choice. They called it a classic, but since it’s a 1980s creation based on a movie, I don’t consider that a classic. Classic musicals have been around for decades or, at the very least, were original works that took the theatre world by storm (like Les Miz, Wicked, Rent, etc.) The movie was made as a vehicle for Judy Garland and that alone doesn’t make it a classic.

But, anyway, these kids did an amazing job. The senior who was the lead female, Astoncia, was simply breathtaking. She sings a bit like Garland and had every single moment done. I found myself just always watching her because she was never dead. She was always reacting, always engaged, always present. She’s got a face & mannerisms like a Disney princess. Every. Single. Moment. Was right on. I was so blown away by her. And, I must admit, saw a lot of myself in her. Yeah, she’s way prettier and this tiny, tiny thing, but I saw that thing in her where she just came alive on stage. It was her life. And the fact that this was her last high school show really resonated with me. She’s a sweet girl with wonderful talent and incredible beauty and she will be successful at whatever she chooses.

The male lead was played by the youngest son of the choir director who was also my choir director. This kid’s voice is unbelievable. He’s got a falsetto to die for, the ability to riff like woah, and just gorgeous tone. And, of course, all the girls just swoon over him. He did a great job capturing his character’s earnest simplicity. I was surprised with all the kids’ ability to portray the simple honesty of 1903. Sweetness, family love, innocent infatuation. It’s so incredibly different from what young people are like now, but they captured it.

And, of course, I thought my daughter was wonderful. She played Katie, the Irish maid of the Smith family. She learned the accent, nailed a song filled with OMGSUPERFASTLYRICS and even made it look like she was comfortable dancing (which she’s really not). I was incredibly proud of her.

There wasn’t one kid in that show that didn’t impress me. From the leads to the chorus members who just danced with no lines, every person gave it their all. The orchestra? Nothing like any high school orchestra I’m used to, that’s for sure. Full, awesome, few mistakes and really added to the show rather than impeding it. The tech was wonderful, too. My friend, Sue, is the tech director and she created a gorgeous post-Victorian living room, complete with a 3 dimensional rooms and staircase, a TROLLEY, a gorgeous front porch with “stained glass”. She constantly impresses me.

Anyway, that’s kind of what my life’s been the past month. Hearing about, thinking about, photographing, processing and seeing this show. Here: I’ll share some of my pictures.