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YPT's Tarzan

I mentioned back in January that Calvin had tried out for and gotten a chorus style part in the Young People's Theater production of Tarzan. What I didn't mention then (because I didn't know) was how much a life takeover that one moment would turn out to be. It's not just the rehearsals, which were numerous and long, nor the parental involvement, which turned out to be so absorbing that I swear the house went uncleaned for the final three weeks, but that the caliber of the show and the intensity of the people working it, young and old, rubbed off on us in some way. 

As he did during the audition back in January, Calvin took this entire journey in stride. Rehearsals for him were anywhere from once to four times a week and lasted for one to three hours. It seemed like a lot at times, especially on the nights when his earlier choir rehearsal meant he was eating a cold dinner in the car between the two activities, or on nights when he got home fifteen minutes before his usual bedtime. But he loved every minute of it and expressed only disappointment on nights when there was no YPT rehearsal. 

I have no idea what went on in those rehearsals that left him so eager to return because parents were never allowed in. You dropped your child off at the door before it started and picked him up at the door when it was over. Rehearsals were run entirely by the director, assistant director, music director, choreographer, and an indispensible producer. With a cast of one-hundred-and-seven that is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of all the kids involved, as well as to the respectful and patient attitudes of the adults working with them. That or it's a statement about how good kids are when their parents are not around.

Though the lack of parent invitation at rehearsals does mean that parents weren't involved. Being a mostly volunteer organization, parents were strongly encouraged to participate by volunteering for a particular team, which is how I found myself working on the costume that was responsible for the biggest and most impressive costume show in YPT memory. I didn't know what I was getting into when I signed up, of course—the costumes weren't yet designed at that time—but only a two months later I was putting in my own measurable hours every week. There were weeks when costume pieces were spread throughout the house, days when we couldn't even eat at the dining room table, and all the time Calvin danced through our own jungle of costumes singing his Tarzan songs.

The months of preparation culminated in a final two weeks of intense rehearsal. That last week Calvin and I were at the theater every night from four to nine for full run-throughs, bookended by the application and removal of stage makeup at home. I was ever so thankful yet again that we are homeschoolers, because we basically took the week off and spent our mornings outside and our afternoons resting inside with books before applying makeup and heading out the door. For the whole week we lived and breathed the Tarzan jungle and all the people—actors and volunteers—who were part of it.

And Friday night, Jon and I dropped Calvin off for opening night . . . and went out for dinner before taking in that first show from the audience. It was a fun date night to celebrate the survival of theater "hell week" (which we both remember fondly from our high school days). Dinner was fun, the evening was beautiful, and the show. Even after all we had learned of the organization through our months of involvement, even after all the nights I'd spent backstage working costumes during the final week of rehearsals, we were totally unprepared for the caliber of the performance. It was like Broadway with children. The voices were delightful, the dancing spectacular, the costumes pretty darn amazing. 

We went back the next day with our parents (the doting grandparents) and then I worked the final two shows backstage. I was torn the whole time between wanting to be in back or in front of the curtain and loved every minute in both places. Families from our homeschooling group and from the neighborhood came and Calvin basked in the attention of his friends. He loved being on stage, and it was obvious from every seat.

While there are so many things I could say about how well YPT is run—how well they take care of the kids and how much they teach them—there is nothing I can say to truly describe how wonderful this experience has been for our family. Now, a week out from the final performance, as I am finally getting the house back into working order and finding time to make fresh dinners and sort the gardens out from under the weeds, Calvin is already talking about "the next show" and what he can do to prepare and how he will audition. 

Tarzan (photos taken of rehearsals/performances from the front of the stage are by YPT photographers Sabine Gabaron, Krista Campeau, and Susana Pecina)

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