Well, we opened the show on Tuesday. And it was so good, y'all. The house was full, the audience was willing to go on the journey with us, the jokes landed, the lines were perfect, and there were laughter and tears. A perfect pair of strangers came up to me afterwards, telling me that they had just happened upon the show, driving up on a whim from their business trip in the city, taking advantage of two last minute ticket cancellations. And that this play had impacted them so deeply, they felt God had led them to the theatre that night. I mean, it was that kind of opening.
But let me tell you about the hours leading up to game time! A couple of hours prior to, we did a little run through. Just a silly one, playing around, messing with the words and blocking just to get the nerves out and make sure that we remembered the lines over our day off on Monday. (Like we don't remember these lines -- they're probably imbedded in my soul -------- Knock on wood! Fate, I'm not tempting you!) We did it on our own (well, with Angela's supervision), as director Sarah had already left to start work on her next million jobs. She is a theatre machine! I felt proud that Sarah was confident enough to leave us, but I also wished she was there for last minute guidance. We missed you, Sarah!
Our little team has gradually shrunk: now it's just Devion, me, Angela, and our crackerjack backstage team of Cheryle and Caitlin. It's a little lonely , especially when you walk in to a greenroom that's empty except for the smell of waffle fries.
After the run through, I went and took a shower. I couldn't even think about eating. I hate being onstage with a full stomach, anyway. And in this show, where I power through like a bag of waffle fries and a cookie, I really don't want to have dinner beforehand. You'd think a job that required you to eat fries and cookies day after day would be awesome. And yet, I think I'm good on eating fries for essentially the rest of my life. I'm at waffle fry capacity. Cookies, on the other hand . . .
When I arrived for half hour, there were already audience members there, and the butterflies started! I'll admit, even though we had done this so many times, I was nervous, which so rarely happens to me. So, in a very Caroline frame of mind, I sent out a last minute Facebook status, and the comments of encouragement made me feel brave. Thanks, friends; I needed that.
The good thing about a show like this is that once you're off and running, that's it! No more nerves to handle, no worrying at the intermission. Just go!
But getting out of the gate proved to be a little challenging. We had a tiny sound glitch following (artistic director) Jasson's preshow speech that landed the audience in silence for a what seemed like an hour. We tried to breathe deeply through one nostril backstage to mitigate the panic. Then the music came up, the lights went down, and Cheryle was telling us "Go!"
Opening night audiences rule, maybe because they share some of the same energy we're feeling onstage. Whatever it was, it felt like they were with us from the beginning. Jokes were landed, emotions were stirred, gasps were elicited. It felt like we MADE something, which was always the case with each run and preview, but this time, we got to show it off to this huge group of people.
I think of it like this: almost like a little kid, I put my heart and soul into making something that I think is uniquebeautiful out of weird, random stuff I find lying around. And then when it's done, I put it in a shoebox. Then I carry it with me, showing it to the people I love and admire, shyly opening the lid, hoping that they see the wonder and beauty that I see. But even if they don't, even if they think it's just a pile of random junk, I'm still proud of it. And I'm happy to show it to anyone who wants to see it. Because who knows? Maybe it'll be something special to them, too.