Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Wiz

Long overdue. Back in May I tech-directed for Hope Academy's production of The Wiz. My former debate coach and teacher from 10th grade now works there as an administrator-type-person and approached me asking if I could help out. The timing was perfectly ironic. Here I was, just finishing AWAKEN tour season, praying, "God, please give me another ministry to pour my heart into", and then Dan emails me. Hope Academy is a private Christian school for poor/underprivileged kids in Minneapolis. He told me up front the job wouldn't pay much, and I knew I was really too busy to add "one more thing" into my schedule, but I also knew this was an answer to my prayer (careful what you ask for).

The Wiz was Hope's first ever musical production, so Dan said the bar was set really low for me :) They rented some basic lights and speakers, I set up all that on my own. Kind of therapeutic, actually, just working alone. For the rehearsals and actual performances I had two Hope student helpers, one for lights and one for spotlight, and then there were also two MA students (who used to attend Hope) who helped out. I ran sound myself, but tried to teach along the way. One of the students was very very excited to learn anything and everything about the sound board, very cool to have someone so excited about learning.

I had no idea what to expect coming in, so I consciously told myself up front I'd be as flexible as I possibly could be. Fortunately I'd worked with all the equipment before in some shape or form, and I got permission to borrow a few light gels from MA. Hardest part was figuring out who was who. I'd not had a chance to read the script, so the first rehearsal was a bit rocky, me not knowing who was coming onstage when, and even when they were on stage, who was who. The students were really soft, too, I'm sure they assumed having mics meant "I don't need to project". False. Constant battle. By the real performances they were doing better.

Director was super friendly and had such a passion for making this production as good as it could be. We talked for a while the first day I was there (only three or four days before the first show!), agreed to add extra rehearsal time for the kids, and she was always ready to answer questions I had about lighting/sound choices. Great teamwork.

The students did a phenomenal job. I mean, they're not professional actors, but given this was the first musical, given the nature of the school, given we were doing this in a gymnasium, given they've never used wireless headsets before, given all these things, they did phenomenal. The girl who played The Wiz character was exceptionally good for a high school production, as were a few other supporting roles. I'm actually proud of them, all of them, because they pulled it off. Wednesday rehearsal if you'd asked me I would have said "this will be a disaster". But by Friday performance, they got there, they did it.

Rewarding experience for me. I'm still way too busy, but it was worthwhile, every minute of it.

No comments: