Opening night I arrived a little early, walked into the First Baptist Church and made a bee line for the lighting booth to see how Jeff Atkisson was doing. He seemed to feel everything was ready and in place. He had some concern about the Kabuki Drop which reveals the trees. It seems that the air conditioning was causing there to be less pressure on the inside of the drop and so the curtain was billowing inward toward the trees. He feared it might fall into the trees becoming tangled. I said hello to Aradhana Tiwari, the director, and then she had to go back stage to rally the troops. Later when she stopped back she looked a bit nervous. She offered me a better seat but I rather liked sitting behind the camera woman. I had started this sketch and needed to finish. A small family knelled down behind the pew in front of me and ushers later bought them some folding chairs. The director graciously offered her seat to a woman and child and then she turned to walk to the back of the theater. I offered my chair to the the director but I think she needed to keep moving to calm her nerves. I returned to the sketch.
I recognized the camera woman as being the same one who had taped the Caylee Marie Anthony Memorial Service earlier this year. When the Kabuki curtain dropped and the two huge trees were lit up for the first time with the music building, the little 8 year old girl sitting next to me was watching, saucer eyed, chin up, sitting on the edge of her seat rapt and unable to move. Her mother glanced at me and we both smiled. I worked quickly and often in the dark. During one of the jazzy dance numbers I suddenly realized that the young girl was paying no attention at all to the stage but was instead watching my every move as I sketched. She was again mesmerized, and later I apologized to her mom fearing I had been a distraction. The mom wasn't upset at all but was happy that her daughter had taken such an interest. Maybe another artist was born.
Bottom line though, the show was fabulous. The pace quickened and became more up lifting with each number. By the end I wanted to dance in the isles and finally a singer came out who encouraged the audience to clap. I couldn't help myself and I stated singing the songs out loud. I felt a warm glow for the whole cast as they danced, especially the ones I had come to know over the course of many rehearsals. I knew of many personal hardships which had been faced and overcome. Health troubles, drug side effects, caring for an aging parent, relationships eclipsed by time, all while devoting many hours to rehearsals every week since September. So much sacrifice and yet so much all out joy! Getting to this point took grit, patience and heart. Now they were giving their all and it was glorious!