It’s a spectacle to marvel at how far one person’s vision can stretch in order to create a masterpiece, and I find myself struck by the thought every time I’m thrown into a production. As the house lights went down on the opening night of the Middle School Musical, I remember thinking that Peter Pan was absolutely no different.
A multitude of students from Years 9 and 10 had somehow slipped, almost unconsciously, into perfect renditions of each role, and it made me think back to those weeks when the thought of a fully fledged production was just a flight of fancy. The thrum of anticipation during auditions had been completely transcended by an immaculately selected cast, and by the time everyone had taken up their positions on stage it was impossible to imagine anyone else in those respective roles. It’s just something that instils in you an enthralling belief in the magic of theatre.
The aforementioned enchantment also consisted of incredibly special moments, some of which were specific to the individual, while others were shared by the production cast and crew alike. Things like hearty war cries rising to crescendos in the back of people’s throats as we screamed our lungs out before and after each show; excited, whispered waves of ‘chookas’ that passed for good luck among everyone as we waited backstage; the inevitable lack of restraint that took hold of both cast and crew as we cheered on the stars from the wings. We jumped on—and screamed at—fellow cast members during choreographed fight scenes, decorated black brick walls with glow-in-the-dark tape and favourite quotes from the script, and had impromptu dance parties in the not-so-segregated changing rooms. All those gruelling weeks of rehearsals, late Sunday nights and constant occupational health-and-safety reminders all came to a head for three nights of fantastic performances.
It was a production born and bred of visionary sketches, the hum of sewing machines and the double-checking of each costume; sweltering waits in the rehearsal area practising makeup until the cast came back for changes, the endless hunt for bobby-pins and everyone vying for Mrs Ramsey’s approval; set changes and lighting checks, whispering to fellow crew members backstage and having a million different things to do at once; tuning instruments in the green-room-turned-music-pit, frantically skipping sections under Kim Spargo’s enviable direction and waving madly at the camera connected to the stage during pack-up despite not being able to hear the answering laughs of the actors; and stretching upstage while the actors were warming up, bringing Madison Lochert’s incredible visions to life and dancing through the smoke spilling out from foiled pipes.
So many thanks are owed to so many distinguished groups and individuals—the extremely talented cast; the astonishing costume group, makeup team and backstage crew; the unbelievable musicians and dancers; and the wonderful band of drama assistants. An especially big thanks to Mr Bruce who headed up the backstage team with his endless expertise; Mrs Hodgkison who looked after everyone and was with us every step of the way; Ms Dalton who fed many hungry mouths and managed to mother the entire cast and crew; Kim Spargo who led the musicians and singers while bringing absolutely invaluable passion, diligence and professionalism to the show; and last, but not least, Sharon Reynolds who made the most incredible debut of a production, worked so incredibly hard and made every single member of the cast feel at home. The entire production was magic, and nothing short of fairy dust swept through us all during the time we worked on it. And I can say, wholeheartedly, that the only regret any of us had, as actors, was being unable to watch the show ourselves. The wisdom, experience and relationships imparted to every one of us throughout the journey will stay with us all for a very, very long time. And, as a whole, we were definitely lucky enough to see this production for what it was—one big adventure.