I know, it’s not Friday. I was too tired last night to post. TGIF means “Thank goodness it’s finished.”

I just completed a big project. Now, I didn’t know it was that big when I volunteered to do it. This coming weekend is our high school’s annual musical theater production, and for once they’re doing a musical I’m familiar with, Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. As a parent of one of the actors (Constable Locke), I looked for any area to help with that fit my interests and abilities.

The past two years I have limited my efforts to good intentions (never fulfilled) to help with the set, and bringing soda pop and cookies to be sold at the concessions table during intermission (this is required of all cast parents). I justified my minimal involvement because I am already busy enough with Cub Scouts and teaching Sunday School – plus my son’s interest in the drama program is limited to its musical aspects.

This year I volunteered to help with a show choir invitational (directing buses in the parking lot, which seemed within my capabilities), and even – reluctantly – helped supervise students at another show choir competition (this had the advantage of getting me in to the performance at no charge). When it came time to sign up to help with the musical, I was happy to find out there was a need for someone to type the program. I made sure I was at the front of the line to sign up to help so I could do that instead of feeling obligated to try to sell ads, organize volunteers, or help with costumes or makeup.

Of course, putting the program together turned out to involve quite a bit more than typing. I discovered that I had to figure out how to arrange the ads (some of which were not submitted in Word format as per stated specifications), compile a list of scenes and songs from my son’s script, and get it all put together in a form ready to be run off on the school Xerox machine.

I am reminded again why I prefer “followership” positions to leadership positions. I’m told that the cast members did a good job of getting their work done – writing out their bios for me, and learning their lines and songs for the production. But the adults are another matter. Of course, they’re all volunteers like me, each busy with work and family, trying to squeeze in the time needed for this major project along with all their usual responsibilities.

So the material for the program dribbled in bit by bit, with a good deal of it coming in barely a week before opening night. Last night I still didn’t have the bios for the production staff (director, vocal and band directors, and choreographer). This made it a bit difficult to finalize the arrangement of the rest of the program, though I was assured I could insert a no-charge “ad” (with some congratulatory message to my son) if there were a hole left in the program. 

Today I took care of the last details – final arrangement of ads, installing a special music-themed font for the title page, manually copying and pasting (i.e. with scissors and tape) the printed PDF ads into the program, and going to my office to print the master copy on a duplex printer because it turned out the high school didn’t have one. Proofing it one last time, I discovered borders that were cut off near the edge of the page. Too tired to readjust and reprint, I pulled out a black pen and drew them in.

I also listened in on part of a conversation between the director and one of the parent volunteers (who pretty much coordinates the entire production, though she is only listed under Costumes and Props in the program). The director has the unenviable distinction of being the principal’s son, which means that some people will inevitably assume that he owes his position as director to nepotism. He was therefore reluctant to press his authority as director – but based on his experience this year he intends to do things differently in future productions.

This Friday I expect to watch a superb performance. I hope not to find any typos in the program, and not to be too hard on myself if I do find any. (I already discovered today that the program cover, produced elsewhere, mispells Meredith’s last name as Wilson.) And I will be more aware than ever of the incredible amount of work that goes into such a production, not just by the energetic and talented cast, but by their less energetic, willing but too-busy parents.


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