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Monday, May 21, 2012

insights: why you cry at a school play

There is a moment that anyone, even the toughest soul would feel an overwhelming sense of emotion. It is that moment after a school play when the cast and crew flood into the lobby to be joined by the exiting audience, friends and family. 
This was the case this weekend after our local high school’s (Inglemoore) production of “Legally Blonde, the Musical.” We didn’t have kids in the performance, because, well, we don’t have kids yet. We were there to support our neighbor G., the drama teacher and her daughter M., who was in the musical. Even if you don’t have kids in the play, it’s an emotional thing when the cast takes its bow after a performance. If you’re close enough you can see the flood of endorphins as the cast hold hands and bows. No wonder they were happy. These students were incredible. You didn't need to have a kid in the play to know this was a great performance. These kids took this musical seriously. They understood commitment. And the audience knew it.
And so, after the sold-out performance I made my way out to the packed lobby where the kids were excitedly talking with their parents, holding bouquets, hugging dads. I was lucky to arrive in the lobby just as a grandfather leaned in to kiss the cheek of his granddaughter who starred as Elle Woods, the lead. Here was this man with tears in his eyes as his granddaughter hugged back and with tears in her eyes said “You’re here!” A woman standing next to them explained to no one in particular “She didn’t know they were coming.”
A boy who was alone sitting next to us during the performance had been holding two long stemmed roses. When a teacher saw him before the event she said “Hi____. Is one for _______?” “Yes,” he said. “And who is the other one for?” she asked. “I don’t know,” he told her. “I’ll tell you after the show.” I was looking for him. I wondered who he gave the second rose to. 
I saw the big football boys who sang and danced (and were so good)  in the show getting pats on the back by dads and hugs by moms. The girls, most of them holding flowers were laughing, still in costume and surrounded by love from families, from friends. Suddenly, I had to hold back tears. I feel choked up even as I write this. As I think about it, I don’t know exactly what caused this feeling. We see people do good jobs every day. The teller at the drive-thru at the bank gives us the right amount plus surprise! a biscuit for our dog in the car, the nurse gives us a flu shot that doesn’t hurt too much, an athlete catches the ball and runs a touchdown. They’re all examples of people doing a good job but we don’t cry, not typically anyway. But standing there in a room of 15-18 year-olds who rehearsed choreography in their garages for months during Seattle’s rainy weather, who studied their lines as well as geography and calculus, there was something there I can’t explain.  Maybe it was joy? Happiness for them completing a goal? I don’t know. 
As I slowly made my way through the lobby to the exit I saw girls hugging and through tears saying “YOU were good!” “No, YOU were good.” “YOU were. I LOVE you guys!!!!” I saw the grandparents and the teachers and fellow students all proud of these kids, these teenagers who learned the lesson early in life that if you put hard work in, you get results. The fact that they were getting such a tangible reward on this lesson made me think this was a lesson they wouldn’t forget. 

Neither would I.

Congratulations to the cast  and crew of "Legally Blonde, the Musical." You did it!

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