Class Reunion... of Sorts
Emmanuelle and I are back in New York City after being away for more than a year! She’s in tech week for a production of Little Women in which she plays Marmee while I explore the Lower East Side, the neighbourhood we will live in for the next month. After this, we hit the road on another Broadway tour.
Before we crept back to our NYC haunts we spent a month in Canada visiting family and friends. The pinnacle to our visit was a cast party we threw for our OCT Musical Theatre Production class. We spent over a year with some of them; directed and performed five different shows, and we had never met in real life. We were overflowing giddiness with anticipation.
We planned to meet at a park so that we could keep covid safe. Unfortunately, it ended up raining on our party date. Fortunately, a couple of the parents had just taken a shelter building workshop, just bought a 15*8 metre tarp, and were happy to put their newly developed skills to use. Bungeed across multiple trees, our make-shift party tent was ready for fun.
When the cast arrived it was an instantaneous flood of affection. The first thing people commented on was how tall or short everyone was. When you only know people from a Zoom box it’s challenging to gauge people’s actual sizes. Even with the newness of this 3D interaction, the connections we made throughout the year were strong and we were all instantly in synch. It was an incredibly joyful reunion/first meeting.
We began as we did with every class, with a Rose and Thorn; a game we played where everyone shared a “rose” something that they were happy about, and a “thorn” something that was challenging for them. It was amazing to see faces and expressions and body language and everyone’s unique physical presence. It was also fantastic to not be on mute; to hear vocal reactions and interjections and exclamations of support.
We continued and played group drama games. The joy of watching their interactions made me, and I quote the kids, “act like a teenaged fan girl”. I wore that description proudly. Music from our shows played in the background and the kids hummed and sang along. It was glorious and time quickly flew by. We heard from more than one of them that the event was a hundred times better than they imagined it would be.
Slowly, parents arrived and dragged their kids away. We didn’t want the party to end and a small group stayed for another two hours; they couldn’t get enough.
The year plus of covid was difficult. As artists we were particularly challenged as we had lost our entire industry overnight. Our Zoom Musical class was the saving grace for our year. We are forever grateful for the energy, love, and commitment that these young actors shared with us. They helped keep our creativity alive, fueled by their blossoming artistry. And over the year we saw them improve and grow. The party was the perfect ending to a challenging yet enriching year. And it also proved that even though we were separated in space the strong connections we made overcame any distance. Together, we were a musical theatre company; there for one another through the most difficult of times, and we were all made stronger for it. Emmanuelle and I are forever grateful. Thank you.