This morning I awoke (much later than usual, as we've been getting home around midnight for the last two weeks) to the excitement on my girls' faces as they ran into my bedroom saying, "Mom! It's opening night!", and I started to reflect on how our fast-moving summer has gotten to this point...
So YES!, the day has come where the Berkshire Theatre Group's Peter Pan production is about to hit the stage. For the next ten days and eleven performances, the lights will shine bright and the children's expressions even brighter as all of their hard work will finally pay off. I see the little blurbs in the newspapers and the smattering of social media posts announcing the dates and times of the show and that "tickets are still available," and I can't help but feel like, "Gosh...this doesn't even BEGIN to tell the story about WHY people need to see this show...!"
Since the very week that Berkshire schools closed their doors for the summer, these children--aged seven to 67!--have rehearsed literally day in and day out for anywhere from four to TEN hours every day! This type of dedication and enthusiasm is increasingly rare on ANY front...much less when viewed through the eyes of your nine-year-old. And I seriously doubt that readers pause to consider this when skimming over the "What's Happening this Weekend" pages in a newspaper. These little performers, the theatre staff and the parents have poured their hearts and souls into making this a performance worthy of such a grand stage as the historical Colonial Theatre.
And while I applaud the efforts of the local media for publishing the pieces that give a synopsis of the show and include images of the kids rehearsing, I am quite certain that those who read the article probably think, "Oh, that's nice...another community fundraising effort." (And I'm not throwing stones here...I'm all too often guilty of this myself.) Well... "just another" effort it is not. But let's break down the rest of that phrase.
Community--absolutely. This production is put on by ordinary people in our community who truly have amazing talents...from the crew member who keeps everyone organized each day, to the bursting-with-energy Ugh-a-Wugs--who, after all this rehearsing, really only get to take the stage for about three minutes!
Fundraising--no doubt. With government funding to the arts increasingly at risk, and our usual donor pools getting tapped out, this is certainly the most viable option to bring in the much-needed dollars that keep these types of programs alive. And no, the arts may not be one of the "food, shelter, clothing" types of necessities, but it IS so often this type of outlet that saves at-risk children from becoming another statistic.
Effort--ummmm, YEAH! Believe me, there is effort put into every car ride to rehearsal, every night of sitting in a warehouse for five hours... EVERY. SINGLE. PERFORMANCE. When these families sign on to be in a Berkshire Theatre Group production, they make a commitment to have their child there every night, many even foregoing their much-needed family vacations! And if you think it doesn't take some serious effort to tell your child they can't go to their best friend's birthday party because they have rehearsal, you have another thing coming! And the parents? Let's just say there were many nights that I would have rather just relaxed with a bottle of wine and a...well...just a bottle of wine would have been fine!
But there's another component to all this that makes all the commitment, dedication and effort worthwhile...family. These 150+ people that come together each summer truly get to be one big (happy?) family. As with most family units, I can't say that our group is without any squabbles--mothers get mad at other mothers, mothers get mad at directors, mothers get mad at our husbands (who always seem to get out of taking the kids to rehearsals!)--but it is so nice to know that you'll be hanging out with your friends for a few hours, complaining that you have no life and that you have to live vicariously though your children... And when the curtains close and the lights go down, there really isn't a dry eye in the house. It's like leaving summer camp, knowing you probably won't see your buddies again until "this time next year." And it's worth it. It's all SO worth it.
I cannot tell you enough how PROUD I am of all of these children.
So PLEASE consider coming out to watch Peter Pan. Not only because it's going to be an AMAZING show (these kids are really gonna fly, you know!), but because now you also have a better understanding of what really goes on all summer long behind the scenes. Performances begin tonight (at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield) and run through Sunday, August 18th. Tickets ARE still available, and you can purchase these by calling the ticket office at 413-997-4444 or by visiting www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.