I passed the heavy “Cast Only” doors and muted harmony drifted from behind them, voices warming up. In the theater’s darkened balcony, I sat down beside my spotlight. Soon, I heard “Places!” called softly.
Gradually, one or two at a time, the cast began to make their way up through the mezzanine that became my place for the show. Carrying things needed for costume changes, they descended the side stairs to the wings of the stage. Kathie, silhouetted clutching hangers of clothing, hurried along the riser above me and down the steps at the opposite side of the theater. I filled with a rush of excitement.
We had rehearsed this lively play, Zombie Prom, again and again. With more than 150 light cues, this play had more than twice the lighting changes and effects the last play I helped with had. Our stage manager, Frank, who continually made note of everything he could to make the production run smoothly, had also succumbed to learning to call lighting cues. His anxious face looked eager to pick up on whatever needed to be done, yet he was just as quick with a ready grin and a thumbs up.
The small cast of 14 were primed to fill two and a half hours with non-stop action and music. Being around young people does help keep you young. This cast of predominately teenagers exuded an infectious energy that worked like a B-12 shot in my arm.
I’d think, after repeating our routine at rehearsals, that the times I flipped on my spot light should have been a snap. Sometimes, when I had time to sight in my spot ahead of cue, I slowly opened the large lens and the big beam of light was dead on the face to be enhanced. “Perfect!” came Frank’s voice over my headset. Satisfaction.
Then, there were times when I forgot I was not part of the audience. “Spot 2, pick up on cue 42 … Lights 42, go … Spot 2?” OH, that’s me! I am so absorbed in the play, I’m late! I haven’t changed my colored filter. Our leading lady’s face is red instead of blue. I try to subtly switch the lenses. Her face goes slightly lavender as she sings, then a buffered blue.
Thankfully, what I did from above was not so noticeable to most of the audience. What was noticeable was the comic, sometimes silly, but always entertaining story-line, the intriguing choreography, the great musical score, and the thrilling harmony that filled the house during much of the performance.
This production was a cut above average community theater. The words I choose to describe the musical Zombie Prom are fresh, fun, and fabulous!
Exiting the theater, Kathie commented that her voice was tired and her throat was scratchy. I quipped in my best New York accent, “Go home and gargle with old razor blades.” I turned to the young dad beside me, leaving with his daughter. “It’s a quote from the Three Stooges,” I told him.
“Oh, yeah, ” he said. “My grandmother told me about them.”
“Well, Mom,” Kathie shrugged and grinned back at me, reminding me again of the late start her mother made having kids (something she vows she will not do).
My fountain of youth diminished to a trickle, but it will flourish again. Just keep me around kids.