If I could describe the process that is producing a full stage musical (or dance concert), I might actually use the words Beauty and Beast together. It is the perfect analogy for the crazy roller coaster ride that ensues when taking on a large scale show.
When a show of exceptional caliber is finally presented to an audience, it is a sight to behold in all of its beauty and glory. The cheers and accolades are the stage players’ pay off for the beastly experience that they have gone through to get the show ready for viewers’ eyes. The magic of musical theatre is that the magic on stage is not really magic at all. It’s a beast built on hours of rehearsals lasting well into the evenings (not just for a couple weeks but several months). It’s family time unspent. It’s missed ballgames and get-togethers. It’s middle of the night anxiety dreams and hours of insomnia for directors and actors and choreographers. It’s parents’ hectic schedules of balancing rehearsals with other family activities. It’s aching backs, shoulders, feet, toes, vocal cords. It’s actual disasters and family crises handled with grace so the show can go on.
It’s all of these “beastly” things. BUT it’s also much more. It’s the beauty of untapped talent. It’s the beauty of teamwork. It’s the beauty of new friendships made and lasting memories etched in minds. It’s the magnificent birth of a creation that lasts only one performance or 6 performances or 100 performances but each one is a living breathing creation whose life is but a moment long and when the run ends….there will never be another just like it. Ever. In the history of all performances. There will never be that cast, those dancers, that audience meshed together as one again. Never again.
And when it all comes to a crashing halt…The hard work. The dedication. The mind-crushing exhaustion. The life-altering, all-inspiring, high-kicking, song-singing, quick-changing, prop-setting, set-switching, line-memorizing, character-developing, cry-yourself-to-sleep experience. When the curtain closes, all that is left is our stories: those that are engraved into our hearts and minds by the experience and the stories that we pray we left with our audiences. That’s the BEAUTY and the BEAST of musical theatre.
*I couldn’t be prouder to have my name and my students’ names on Woodward Civic Opera’s production of Beauty and the Beast directed by Woody Leonard. Nine R&C dancers joined me onstage for a run of six performances, in which my choreography was highlighted in the Be Our Guest scene. The show wrapped up last weekend but not before being a smash hit and selling out nearly every performance. It was not without a ton of sweat and tears and possibly blood. I think it all was worth it in the end. It always is.