Curtain going up on another unforgettable show

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For a 17-year-old girl from Iowa, there was nothing to compare to the excitement of being in the center of the theatre universe that summer.

Heat waves rising off the pavement, the hustle and bustle of millions of people, the breathless excitement of new sights, new sounds, new scents.

I'm a long way down the road of life from that summer of 1980, but I'll never forget the thrill of attending my first Broadway show.

No high school musical, or touring company could prepare me for the grandeur of the Minskoff Theatre, smack dab in the middle of it all, at Broadway and 45th Street. And, at 17, there was no way I was going to give any outside indication this wasn't a normal, everyday Saturday night outing.

Inside, however, my heart was beating a million miles a minute.

I'll never forget seeing Debbie Allen at her most feisty, most brilliant, playing Anita in the revival of West Side Story. I was mesmerized, clutching the armrests of my seat, and blinking back tears as the story reached its familiar conclusion.

I couldn't believe I'd ever be more excited to see that show again.

But I am.

On Thursday evening, the Spencer Community Theatre's Children's Theatre presents its teen production - West Side Story. The modern adaption of the heartbreaking Romeo and Juliet story provides a classic soundtrack of memorable Leonard Bernstein tunes with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It has complicated, dizzying dance scenes, a time-honored story of helpless love, and a male protagonist who lives with me.

Son Drew is tackling his biggest dramatic challenge, taking on the role of star-crossed young lover Tony, who finds his love in the beautiful Maria. It's been quite a commitment for Drew, and for all the dedicated cast and crew. Five nights a week for five weeks, with individual work on songs and lines in between - that will be our memory of this summer.

Every summer has a soundtrack, songs that immediately make you think "Summer of '90," "Summer of 2005,"- this summer will be marked by "Something's Coming,", "Maria," and "Tonight."

It's been quite an eye-opener, watching this show come together from close-up. I've seen how hard so many work to bring a real quality show to the stage. And I've seen so much growth in skills and self-confidence in my son.

So, it will be with excitement I never thought I'd feel again that I take my seat on Thursday night for the opening evening performance at the Spencer Community Theatre. Tears may very well come to my eyes once more.

You can enjoy the show as well. Tickets are still available at the SCT box office for performances at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.


Some say the world will end in fire,_Some say in ice._From what I've tasted of desire_I hold with those who favor fire._But if it had to perish twice,_I think I know enough of hate_To say that for destruction ice_Is also great_And would suffice.

-Robert Frost

For some reason, with wildfires blazing in the West, and heat scorching much of the country, the words of the Robert Frost poem have come to mind.

Apocolyptic? Nah, it just seems we've been faced with some pretty wild extremes the past few years. Heat, floods, the snowy, frigid winter of 2010-2011....we've had our choice of Frost's lyrical end of days.

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