Friday, February 13, 2009

The Blissful Tradition of Roadshows

Years ago, it was a tradition in our stake to put together roadshow productions. These were mini-plays based on whatever theme our stake leaders settled upon. Shortly after my husband and I were married and began residing in the realm of Bennington, I was nabbed to write my first attempt at this sort of thing. The end result was an impressive classic: "Dallas in Blunderland," complete with Uno Cards who danced the card shuffle. =) It was a silly thing, but as I recall, we had a lot of fun as you can see from the pictures posted above and below this paragraph.

Through the years, I've been asked to help with several of these productions. It was great training for the future Primary Christmas programs I would be asked to write, the numerous camp skits I had to pull out of the air, and writing\directing\producing a tri-stake Christmas musical I was called upon to put together one interesting year. =) It was a two act production that involved a double cast and lots of sound and light effects. [Yes, I lived to tell about it.] I entitled it "A Christmas Prayer," and believe me, there were several of those offered as we struggled to pull this thing together.

Our dress rehearsal was a complete flop. Someone, who shall remain nameless, (he was a grown man who should have known better, one of our cast members, and not anyone related to me) played around with our light and sound board, messing up all of our computerized settings. So that night, our cast sang acappella, there were no sound effects, and we had to leave the house lights on to see. Good times. ;)

This play was based on something that really happened in my father's family; it was something of a tribute to his memory, and I was crushed by how awful that rehearsal was. A handful of people from our valley had come to watch the dress-rehearsal since they would be out of town the rest of the week, and they tried to be supportive.

"A bad dress rehearsal means it will be a great performance," one brave woman said, patting my shoulder in a sympathetic manner.

"My prayers are with you all," another remarked.

"Have you contemplated moving from the area?" still another person sympathized. =D

We persevered and by the next night, my dedicated group of co-directors had helped me paste our sound\light board back together and the production was a hit. I remember sinking to my knees later that night in grateful prayer, stunned by the complete turnaround that had taken place. Everyone had remembered their lines, the songs had been rendered without a hitch. In short, we had witnessed a Christmas miracle.

Here are three pictures from this tremendous effort:

This first shot shows the nativity scene, and yes, that's my husband posing as an angel in the white suit. =)

These are some of the main characters from one of the casts. They did such a good job!

This is the final musical number---the entire cast came out onstage to perform, including me. (I'm the one holding hands with my angelic husband. What you can't see are the tears that were streaming down my face that night.)

One year, a good friend of mine was asked to write a script for the ward roadshow. That year the stake theme was centered around scripture stories. Her creativity hit genius level as she wrote and directed something she entitled: Mrs. Noah's Prayer. She asked me to compose a special musical number for this endeavor and we worked together to make it a success.

All three of my sons took part in this production (all three were also involved in the Christmas musical I mentioned earlier) and they portrayed some of the animals from Noah's ark. Two were bunnies, and my oldest son was a frog:

One of the neat things that came about as a result of these experiences was my sons' interest in music and the dramatic arts. All three of them took part in various productions in the years that followed.

Our two oldest sons joined a local performing group called "Showcase," and they eventually went on tour in California--an experience they loved. Here's a picture of our oldest son, Kris, posing in traditional "Showcase" attire:

Here are a couple of pictures of my two younger sons who were later drafted\encouraged to take part in yet another stake production. (This time I was merely the supportive mother and part of the audience, a nice change.) This play was based on Lehi's dream and it involved the past and the current time. As such, Derek was cast as the traditional Nephi:

And Devin portrayed his modern-day counterpart. He's wearing his football jersey, standing to the side of Derek in this picture:

These talented sons of mine even formed their own garage (I should say "basement") band. They all play musical instruments by ear and each one has been blessed with the ability to sing.

During his senior year, our youngest son was awarded a starring role in the high school musical "Grease;" he portrayed Kenickie. One night, during his solo performance of the song, "Greased Lightening," the recorded music locked up and ceased to play. Devin continued on with the song like nothing had happened and the neat thing was when the music suddenly cued back on toward the end of that number, Devin was dead on with the pitch. [This means he remained "in tune." I suspect there is an analogy in there somewhere, something about staying in tune despite challenging obstacles. ;) ]

(Devin is the one standing up inside the car)

Through the years, because of productions like roadshows, etc. talents were developed and shared. Confidence was hatched and nurtured. Lives were changed for the better, and most importantly, we all had a lot of fun.

For some reason, roadshows became a thing of the past in our stake. I suspect in part because of the busy pace we find ourselves enduring in these lovely latter days. I was happy to learn that this year, our stake has encouraged each ward to put together a roadshow. And even though I've been drafted to help with our ward's production, I'm still excited. ;) True, we're borrowing a script from the past (Shelley Burdick's creation: "Mrs. Noah's Prayer,") but we're planning on adding a few extra features here and there to make it a little different.

I was able to come up with a set of lyrics for this roadshow that has already inspired a smile or two. I'm hoping our cast will have fun with it, and that the people involved will take advantage of this opportunity to polish talents, nurture confidence, and spread their wings. That's what roadshows are all about, and that's why I'm so happy to see a return to this art form in our stake. I think we live in a time when it's important to encourage people to develop their talents and to boost self-esteem, considering that the adversary is having a hey-day tearing everyone down. It is my hope that the roadshow legacy will live on, providing opportunities for growth that are amazing and important. As with anything else in life, it's up to us to decide just what will be gained from occasions like these.

I'll end this blog entry by pasting in the lyrics I mentioned earlier. May they inspire a smile and perhaps a desire to spread your own wings:

The Smelly, Yucky Ark

(Sung to the tune of “Yellow Submarine)

Lyrics by: Cheri J. Crane

We all live in a smelly, yucky ark
A scary place that’s dark
This is not a lark.
We all live in a smelly, yucky ark
When will we disembark?
Noah’s the patriarch.

1st Verse: This began not long ago
When the world was full of woe
People sinned, and sinned some more
Then the rain came down, began to pour.

2nd Verse: If they only’d changed their lives
There’d be more than us and our wives.
But repent was not their style
Now they’re fish bait down a mile.

3rd Verse: We don’t know when we will land
The whole world is minus sand
We’re just out riding the sea
The only place that we can be.

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Cindy Beck said...

Roadshows can sure be a lot of fun. Enjoyed the pictures and loved the words to "The Smelly Yucky Ark."

Cheri J. Crane said...

Thanks Cindy. =)I'm rather partial to it, too. ;) And you're right, roadshows are a lot of fun.