One of my greatest joys, over the last 20 years, has been the opportunity to work on theatrical productions with a group of friends. Our friendships have grown through this work as a production team; and we have enjoyed several successful shows together.
We have fallen into a rhythm of producing a show every 2 or 3 years; so toward the end of 2011, it felt like time – again – to put our thoughts together about our next show. What show would we like to do this time around?
Through emails and conversations, the names of a few shows were batted around; and we began to assess what factors were important to us in the selection of our next one. As we sifted through ideas, limitations, needs, desires, one show began to emerge as the front-runner – ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ As it became clearer that this was likely to be our next show, I found myself really wondering whether or not I could do it. It is not family-friendly – an important factor for me, especially as I remember how much fun I had taking my children to musicals when they were little. It is campy and cult-y – a 50’s rendition of a very quirky and dark story. Not my speed – give me a good ole’ Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I’m a happy person.
So I was faced with a decision – would I sign on to do a show I really didn’t like for the opportunity to work with our ‘dream team’; or . . . knowing how much time and effort is involved to produce a show, would I say no this time, to relieve myself of a commitment that I figured would be low on the satisfaction scale. Despite my serious misgivings, I decided to say yes – finding it hard to imagine the rest of the dream team involved without me.
I struggled to prepare for auditions – finding reasons to put off listening to and learning the music, and wondering where I would go to find the energy and enthusiasm I needed and wanted to have when we began the process of casting the show. The first night of auditions arrived, and we found ourselves with a good number of people ready to audition. When that night ended, we gathered as a team to begin processing, and I began to experience an energy and a spark. What great people! What great talent! What great enthusiasm! After the second night of auditions, the energy and spark grew, and we prepared for call-backs and casting the next night.
After the third evening, we gathered around the directors’ dining room table, snacks at the ready for a long night of casting. With amazing clarity and consistency, we put together our cast, acknowledging how lucky we had been to have such a talented group from which to choose.
Fast forward three months. We have been rehearsing together for 8 weeks and I’m confident we will be ready to open on April 12 with an entertaining, funny, compelling, and high-level show. But for me, a more important and deeper production has been underway. As the days and weeks of rehearsal have opened, and I have spent many hours each week with the cast and production team, I have come to discover – yet again – the energy of common purpose; the creativity of collaboration; and the transforming power of community. What was I thinking? Little Shop of Horrors? I can’t wait!