I’ve said it a million times. Our kids are theatre kids.
Do you know the difference between theater and theatre? Until about 5 years ago, I didn’t. I thought it was a style thing, like shop and shoppe. As in, Ye Olde Shoppe is way fancier than That Old Shop. Or they at least mean to be. The most basic of definitions will tell you that one is British and the other is not. Some will try to explain that the theater (with the -er) is a place. It’s tangible, and theatre (with the -re) is more of a concept. I still don’t know the actual difference. I like feeling fancy, so theatre it is.
As kids who love being on stage, they get to go on trips with other theatre kids. Imagine thousands of kids, ready to break out in song during all everyday situations. If it sounds terrible, that’s okay. Like mud wrestling, theatre isn’t for everyone. They meet celebrities. Think Ben Platt from “Dear Evan Hansen.” If you don’t know what “Dear Evan Hansen” is, that’s okay. Musical theatre isn’t for everyone, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of “Pitch Perfect.”
The Girl went on one such trip last weekend. She met some famous people again, took some selfies, and attended dance and acting workshops. Part of the trip also includes a sort of competition, too. Each group gets a chance to perform a condensed, 15-minute musical to be judged by a panel of pros.
A few years ago, when this group performed “The Little Mermaid,” one of the judges was Benj Pasek. If you don’t know who that is, that’s also okay. Winning Tony awards isn’t for everyone, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of “The Greatest Showman.” He and his writing partner, Justin Paul, wrote the chart-topping score for “Showman,” along with the Tony-winning score to “Dear Evan Hansen.” Yeah, the one with Ben Platt. After the performances, each group receives feedback, which is mostly positive. The Boy, playing Grimsby, the British butler in “The Little Mermaid,” will never forget Benj Pasek asking him, “What, are you on Downton Abbey with that accent?” He also told my boy he made good acting choices. Sorry — mom brag.
So, yeah. Stuff like that happens on these trips, and it’s exciting. This year, they had some excitement like no other. About 30 seconds in to the adjudicated performance, the music stopped. Silence. Instead of panicking, this group of 30-something kids, ranging in age from 9-18, kept going, not missing a beat. They didn’t stop. They moved the room to a tearful standing ovation and glowing reviews from the judges. Although I adore their leader, that sort of teamwork cannot be taught.
The point? If your kid plays soccer, and you spend hours at the field watching game after game, you get it. If your kid is a gymnast, and you spend hours at the gym, watching them do pass after pass on the spring floor, you get it, too.
We don’t force our kids on the stage. We encourage them, but we initially followed their lead. A thing that sounded “like fun” years ago has led to a full-time, well, hobbyish volunteer job. I work backstage; my husband does, too, and he helps build sets for the shows. Both kids audition every chance they get. Our non-theatre friends don’t always get why we are at the theatre so much. It’s because of the people. It’s for the teamwork, both on and off the stage and the friends who are now like family. Familye?