Friday, May 23, 2008

Lions and Crows and Boyfriends, Oh My!

Both kids were cast! Yippee!

Bear, of course IS The Lion. He went into this wanting that part, owning that part, and according to his retelling of the audition and call backs, he worked hard to get it. Tessie didn't get the Addaperle part but she did get the part of one of The Crows - the evil comedic ensemble that taunt The Scarecrow. Both kids are thrilled with their parts. Jarrod's is pretty big, with a solo and a duet where he has to hit a high C. Tessie's will be determined through rehearsals depending on how much personality she puts into it. This part is totally her though. It has that Emo/Scene/HipHop kind of feel. We've got a blissful two weeks now, until rehearsals start up.

We opened the pool earlier this week. It takes about 5 or 6 days for it to go from brackish brown to sparkling blue. We're just about there, so hopefully it will be swimable for the long holiday weekend.... if only the weather would cooperate.

It has been a REALLY busy week for me, and I'm really happy with that. Since I started this new part time job, of course, wouldn't you know, real estate is starting to pick up too! Yesterday, for instance - I showed a candidate for hire as a professor around town for a couple of hours starting at 8, then went right to the DFS job until 6. While I was there, a woman called my cell, referred by a mutual acquaintance and I'm going to show her houses this weekend. When I was done at DFS, I hightailed it back to the North side of town to list a house! Whew! Today I started at DFS at 8, will be here til 3 and then have to hightail it over to my real estate office to turn in the listing before the 4:00 deadline!

Downtown Dad and Bearly are going to take off this afternoon for Iowa. DD's mom is coming up from Branson to attend her all-school reunion in Woodbine, so DD and Bear are going to join them and do a little genealogy research on the way.

In other news, (shhhhhhhh) Tessie has a boyfriend! His name is Vince. This has been a long time coming, and it was interesting to watch the adolescent dance of 'he/she likes me, he/she likes me not.' Vince is a friend of Bear's, and also a cast member of High School Musical, and, sang a lovely duet with Tessie in the spring show "All I Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" no wonder there was so much chemistry there! DD and I met Vince's parents before we even knew who he was during all of our fundraisers. They, the parents are one of the "26 parents" out of the group of 60 who actually participate and do work (and go to "choir practice" afterward), and it's been fun to get to know them because they are a lot like DD and me.

I'm absolutely thrilled about this, but would never have expected it even three months ago. Tessie's taste in boys, up until now, has tended to run toward the dangerous side. She went through a (hormonally induced) week of hating us and texting non stop with an 18 year old, homeless, drop out, which scared the bejiggers out of us. She knew we wouldn't approve, and we absolutely didn't, and told her that. I honestly think she was befriending him - much like bringing home a stray cat, rather than having any romantic interest. We did come home earlier than expected one evening and found them talking outside in the street. She introduced him, but he vanished into the night almost immediately afterwards. That blew over about as quickly as it blew in - thankfully. Last week, a couple of dangerous looking boys rang the doorbell at 7:30 on a Saturday morning asking for Tess. It looked to me like they were high, and when I told them that she was still asleep, they almost demanded I go wake her up. That brought out the mother bear in me and I sent them packing with a few choice words. They were back later and got the same from DD this time. Tessie only knows them through a class they have together and explained that one of them liked her, but the feeling was definately NOT mutual. She told them that their behavior was not appreciated and not to come back. So you can see why I am thrilled at the prospect of Vince, who is a very normal, very involved theatre kid, with parents I know!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And Now We Wait

I'm not sure who was more nervous, me or Tessie for her audition on Friday evening. Downtown Dad brought her since I was on audition monitor duty, and she didn't look as hyped up as I though she would be. She'd falled asleep and he had to wake her up just before they came to the theatre. She said she was confident and went in, head held high - Roger D acted as her monitor. I couldn't help myself, I listened at the door. She started with the monologue which sounded great, then went on to her song. It wasn't as loud as I'd thought she'd do it, and somehow, she missed a stanza, but recovered and hit the last note really well. Then I left when it was time for the dance portion. Apparently she couldn't get the CD we'd burned to work. They even tried a different player, but no go. I wondered what was taking so long and got worried, but, she came out all smiles, she made both vocal and dance callbacks! Woo Hoo! It helps that the directors have seen her in other productions.

Both dance and vocal callbacks were Saturday. Dance was first, with both boys and girls and when I came to pick them up afterwards they both knew they had done really well. The boys' vocal callbacks were at 3:30 and Bearly made it into the last group of 5 or 6 singing for the part of the Lion. He is pretty excited because he thinks he did pretty well. He has the body shape and the voice for that part, much more so than the others that were in that final round. Girls' vocal callbacks were at 4:30. Tessie made it into the second to last group of girls, but not into the last group who sang for the Addaperle part. She was bummed, but it's only one part. She tends to be perky cute, in a hiphop kind of way. That may have worked against her for this part - plus, she may have choked under the pressure, as I said, she's good, she just doesn't test well. The cast list will be posted by 2:00 tomorrow... so now we wait....

The kids' school has a dance after Prom called Morp, which is just the opposite of Prom. They have a theme every year and dress up for that theme. This year the theme was R. Bearly borrowed a king costume from a friend and went as Royalty. Tessie and Alicia went as Ravers - I'm not sure what that is, but it involves glow sticks.

Since the weather was finally nice, we spent today doing more dewinterization of the yard, along with the long neglected housework. Dave made some salmon on the grill for dinner, and now I think we will have a nice relaxing evening doing nothing... well, almost nothing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Week In Revue

Yikes, I've got to catch up! I was all ready to participate in the Fun Monday carnival after a long absence, and plumb forgot about it! This blogging thing takes time, and determination. So, anyway...

Sunday's performances last week were so great! It was sad at the same time though. After the last performance which started at 7 and ended at 9:30, we parents started right in on striking the set. By the time the kids got back into the theatre about 45 minutes later from their meet and greet in the commons, we'd already gotten the extension taken off of the front of the stage and were working on dismantling the rest. Kerry, the technical director had warned us that we might be there for 4 to 6 hours, but with 36 people working, the massive, steel frame, wood decking and fabric walls were gone and we were sweeping the stage by 11:59! Woo Hoo!

I was glad the performance part of this was over - for Bear's sake and for the sake of the rest of the kids. Keeping up with your homework, and chores, and preparing for summer activities and graduation AND doing 5 performances in 3 days had to be grueling! But, they're kids and they bounce back. I, on the other hand, along with Downtown Dad actually went through a little bit of withdrawal. The core group of parents who have worked together on this from the beginning have become such good friends. Yes, I'm glad to be able to have time for laundry, and dishes, and sleeping for a change, but I'm going to miss "choir practice" with my theatre parent buds.

I also had one of the parents respond to a real estate solicitation I'd sent out at the beginning of the year, offering a donation to their kids' travel fund for referring a client to me. Actually, this mom was the last person I'd have guessed would refer someone to me, but hey, like I said, we've all gotten very close over the course of a year - who knew? Another guy, the son of one of my clients also called saying he's finally ready to buy something - I'll believe that when I see it, but who knows, maybe he is. Also, last week a guy I'd sold a house to called and said he was being deployed to Iraq so he was considering selling his house. I did a market analysis for him, but he hasn't gotten back to me, so maybe he's not going to sell after all.

Auditions for Gooseberry were held all this past week. Bear and Tessie had originally signed up for the first day, but then Tessie decided she needed more preparation so she rescheduled hers for tonight at 7. Bearly though, despite coming off of a hectic weekend, barrelled right into the Tuesday evening audition with his usual confidence and got both dance and vocal callbacks in the advanced group on Saturday. He's hoping to be cast as the Lion. He sang Giants In the Sky from Into the Woods, did the Status Quo dance from High School Musical and recited a monologue about theatre pride. He did a fabulous job too, according to the parent/board member monitor who is required to sit in with the directors in all auditions. Being new on the board I hadn't had the opportunity to sit in on auditions before and was anxious to experience it. Let me tell you - it's kind of nerve wracking. The kids, no matter how many times they've done this are nervous, and it's hard to sit expressionless and not respond - but that's what you have to do. You aren't allowed to sit in on your own kid's audition though.

Downtown Dad has been working on dewintering the back yard. He and Bearly got two huge piles of dead branches dragged to the curb and even got the pool uncovered! Now we just have to call the pool guy to come and open up the filtering system for us, then there's that week it takes for the water to somehow magically go from brackish black to clear blue sparkling! We're thinking of adding a solar heater this year to extend the usability season.

Started my new job on Wednesday. This should work out pretty slick, it's just three days a week, about 6 or so hours a day and it's really quiet, so being the multitasker I am, I should be able to at least return phone calls, write if need be, and maybe update this blog! It's a new position, and there are still a lot of hiccups in how things are going to work... log ins, passwords, network availability, just to name a few. It seems to me, that it's a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but I'll just stand back and observe for a while before I make any assessments.

I had my graduation ceremony from the Chamber Leadership class I've been in since last year. It was a very nice lunch with a keynote speaker from our local renovated Fargo Theatre and the president of the chamber, as well as a short speech from the 'validictorian' of our class. He's an attorney with a bald head and his name is F. John. He was in my group of 5 for the final presentations last week and was out of town. We took the opportunity to conspire together to get everyone to either wear a skull cap or wear a tee shirt with a great big F. on the front. We were going to chant F...F...F...F..., but one of our more corporate, and less fun-loving classmates suggested we wait til after the ceremony and do that at our social get-together at the bowling alley. I don't usually frequent bowling alleys, but I went just for the Tee-shirt wearing and cheer. It was a nice gathering, but, I left early.

I've been worried about Tessie and her audition this week. She has a way of not preparing - for anything, not just this, and as a result, both with school work and auditions - she tests badly. She's had her monologue memorized, but up until Wednesday, was still deciding between two or three songs to sing, and didn't have a dance. Although I've never seen one of her auditions, I am just sure that one of the reasons she's not been cast as much as Bearly, is because she doesn't come off as polished and prepared. She has a beautiful voice, and a hiphop look and movement style that is pretty fly for a white girl. :) She's hoping to be cast in the role of Addaperle. Anyway, on Wednesday, we were scrolling through YouTube looking for songs that would showcase her more Alto than Soprano voice and came across Paulette from Legally Blonde singing her Ireland reprise - and that was it! Orfeh, the actress who plays Paulette on Broadway was simply amazing when Downtown Dad and I got a chance to see the show last year in New York. I never would have suggested Tessie sing one of her songs, but - holy moly - she can really belt it out! There's a fabulous long note at the end that really sells it and if Tessie is not too scared she can totally pull it off! So that was one thing down, but we still didn't have a dance.... until last night. I found an old video tape we'd gotten Tessie when she was like 6 or 7, called Darren's Dance Grooves. It's a guy teaching the steps to popular music videos. Tessie had watched that tape until it almost fell apart, in fact when I popped it into the VCR it squealed and jittered pretty badly. But she absolutely lit up when she saw it because she still remembered the dance she'd taught herself from it all those years ago and decided that was going to be her audition dance. What song? What artist? "Crazy" by Britney Spears... oh brother. But, she does it really well and she burned the song on a CD from iTunes - so whew!

This morning I bit the bullet and bought one of the parent jackets from High School Musical, it was the last day they were available and I just didn't want to look back on this year and regret not getting one. I also got an email from one of the directors who is overseeing the finances for the Scotland trip. We'd recently turned in over $1,100 from Bearly's personal fundraising letter and the way the email was worded I am concerned about whether or not all of it went into Bearly's account or if some went to the general fund. Luckily I am absolutely anal about keeping track of who sent what, and a complete task master when it comes to getting Bearly to write thank you notes right away - so I have documentation in case any mistakes happen!

Well, that's all for now, I'm working today until early afternoon, so I'll have time to help Tessie prep for tonight, before I have to go over to the theatre to be the audition monitor again. I'll have to step out when its her turn, but I am TOTALLY listening at the door!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

We're All In This Together!

Friday was opening night for our 5 encore and final performances of High School Musical on Stage. The kids worked very hard around school work, homework, prom, and everything else, last week to rehearse this new tightened up version with the rearranged and smaller touring cast. We parents fell into our ushering, concession, monitoring duties like a well oiled machine. And despite our fears of not selling out - the house was 95% full! It was a fabulous performance to boot! MJ and Downtown Dad broke with tradition and did a short curtain talk, telling people to turn off their cell phones, no flash photography, and then a little obligatory begging, ending with a rousing GO WILDCATS!

Tee shirts, cast photos, foam Wildcat paws and pom poms, as well as pop and sports drinks left over from the Scotland Yard Sale sold quickly at intermission, as well as before and after the show. It never ceases to amaze me that these kids are mobbed at the meet and greet after every show. Little kids with programs and cast photos clamboring for an autograph from "Troy" or "Gabriella," "Sharpay" or "Ryan." And not so much amazing as heartwarming, is seeing these teenage actors, after 2 hours of vigorous singing and dancing, patiently, and happily spend another 30 minutes bent down talking to starstruck second graders.

After the show Friday it was a weary, less demanding group of actors who scattered off to various parties and gatherings, knowing they would have two shows back to back on Saturday. After setting the auditorium and commons area right for the next day, we parents, having bonded through this 9 month experience, met at a local watering hole for "choir practice." It is amazing what good friends we've all become with these people. It's like Downtown Dad said in his curtain talk before the show - "I'm a theatre parent, not to just my kid who is in the show, but to the 60 other kids too." And while "choir practice" went on til around 1 a.m., we all returned home to find sleeping teenagers.

Saturday was a fuller day, with two performances - both not completely sold out, but a full enough audience to both pay the bills and inspire the cast and crew. At intermission for the 2 p.m. show, one of the directors showed us a letter she'd just received. An envelope with no address, just Moorhead High School, but with specific instructions to the post man to deliver it to the Theatre Group going to Scotland. Inside was a card written in the elegant but shaky script of an elderly woman, along with a check for $200.00. She had read the article in the paper about all of our hard work and was inspired to send money for our cause. She lives in a small rural town, not too far from here so we are trying to contact her and bring her to one of the shows today!

At "choir practice" last night, we again took up half the seating in the place and were louder than we probably would have let our kids be - where do you think they get it? We even came up with an idea to do a music video of we parents singing and dancing to the song from the show finale, "We're All In This Together." The choreographer eyed us skeptically, but confident in his ability, decided that he just might be able to pull it off. One of the directors brought his model of the pared down set that will go to Scotland. It is amazing how much engineering goes into making a functional, recognizable set that is light enough and modular enough to fit into suitcases, and can be assembled in 15 minutes. That in itself is interesting enough for a documentary on the Lifetime channel! Meanwhile, again, the tired but happy actors beat us home.

Today's performances will be bittersweet - the last performed on the high school stage. But since there is an orchestra concert Monday evening - parents' "choir practice" tonight will be replaced by striking the stage until about 2 a.m. By now, we know how to do this pretty well, having been through it once before, and we all all such good friends that it almost wont really be work.... after all, "we're all in this together!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Good Kids Doing Good Things

There is such a lack of good news about good kids doing good things, like setting a goal and working together with families and community to achieve it, I thought you’d be interested to hear about this:


Popular Teen Stage Play Set To Travel to International Theatre Festival in Scotland

Moorhead, MN -- Friday, May 9, 2008 -- Sixty families in Moorhead have been working, sometimes against odds, since August to raise the more than $300,000 it will take to send the cast and crew of their local production of Disney’s High School Musical On Stage to the acclaimed Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

When 200 Moorhead High students auditioned to be one of the 60 cast and crew of the high school’s fall musical, they knew the stakes were high. Not only because the energetic score required intense stamina, but if selected, they would be taking this production to the Fringe Festival in Scotland. This meant that instead of the usual 12-week rehearsal and production time line - cast, crew, and their families, would be taking on a year’s involvement.

Although Moorhead High was invited to the festival, chosen from over 1,200 high school programs nominated, taking High School Musical to Scotland was not an automatic given. Permission was difficult to acquire from Disney, and at first denied. However, when Disney officials heard the story, exclusive international amateur rights were granted. An unprecedented achievement. Parents, teachers, cast and crew have worked together since September not only on their performances, but on a whirlwind of fundraisers.

“Working together has been a terrific experience,” said Dave Anderson, a parent of one of the actors. “With set building (and rebuilding) the kids’ rehearsal schedules, fundraisers and just coordinating all of this, we’ve become more like one big family rather than 60 separate ones.”

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday, May 8

Yesterday we had kind of a day off. Bear got to come home from rehearsals at 6:30 and he and Tessie and I had some time together to go run some errands, like getting some monologue books for the Gooseberry rehearsals next week (yikes) and some ingredients for the food basics lab he missed last week. We actually were all in bed by about 10ish for a change.

Today I had to be in North Fargo by 8 a.m. for my last FM Chamber Leadership class. Today all 6 groups had our final presentations of the projects we've been working on for 9 months. Our group presented on Asset Champions' Network and we went second at about 10 ish. All in all, I must say that I think that our presentation was the best. I don't have the energy to go into more detail.

We got front page with a picture and a continuation of the article on the back page this morning in the Fargo Forum! Woo Hoo! A couple of parents from the MHS2UK group were on am talk radio this afternoon promoting the show. I haven't sent any emails yet to see how it went. According to Bear, the article prompted a jillion calls to the activities office for tickets!

When we got home after grabbing a quick bite at Usher's, Tessie and Alicia were putting the finishing touches on blonde streaks in Tessie's hair.

If anyone is actually reading this - click on our website MHS2UK and take a look at all the things we've done to achieve our goal!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday, May 6

Today Bear and Downtown Dad, along with best bud Trev and his mom MJ, and a couple other girls from the cast, went to WDAY radio at dark o'clock and promoed the show. Bear is pretty articulate for a freshman. They got all the right information in, including the 'we're all in this together' angle that I pushed in my press release, even if Downtown did have to throw some of it in at the very end. It was great.

I didn't go to Tour again today - I hate real estate.

Instead, I formatted the big 75 question survey that the Gooseberry board is supposed to take online and got that emailed out with explicit instructions. I emailed Kathy to thank her for her very generous donation to Bear's MHS2UK fund and went on maybe a little too much about strained father daughter relationships, since she'd mentioned in her note that her dad was dying. We have a lot in common, Kathy and I.

After the radio thing, Downtown called me and suggested that we get some comp tickets out to the radio stations in town so they can give them away. So it was off to the activities office for 15 pairs of prime seats on Sunday evening, and then off to the three broadcasting stations. One of the program directors asked us to come back Thursday afternoon to promo the show again!

As I was on my way to Michaels to pick up 5 frame stands for the Leadership presentation on Thursday, Downtown called and said 'lets go to lunch.' After that, I had a little time to throw a load of wash in and send out a group email to find some people to do the Thursday afternoon KFGO gig. Then it was time to go back to the high school to talk to the Forum reporter who is doing a big multi page story on the remount and encore performances. MJ, Bob, Vikki, Mike, Dawn, showed up too and we all had enthusiastic stories from different parts of our adventure with this year long process.

There was a thunderstorm this evening. Tessie brought Alicia over and we had biscuits and gravy, hashbrowns and eggs and sausage for dinner. It was ready just in time for Bear's dinner break from 6 to 7. I had time after dinner to actually fold the mountain of laundry that has been eating the couch in the family room - oh well, it keeps the dog from laying on the couch... While I did that, at last I got a chance to watch Juno - great movie, love the banter and it really does have a good message. Rehearsal was over at 10:10 this evening, instead of 10:45, so now we're all home and ready for a good nights sleep.

The Journal Begins

The house is a mess. No one goes to their closets or dressers for their clothes any more - we just paw through the mountain of clean but unfolded laundry on the couch. No one eats dinner anymore - but we make amazingly efficient use of left overs and those forgotten cans of garbanzo beans and liver pate at the back of the pantry. And while dishes in the sink multiply, our supply of teaspoons has dipped to an all time low.

But surprizingly, I am not complaining. Nor am I stressed out. I am, in fact, very accepting of the situation. And so is the rest of the family. We are in the final week of remount and rehearsal of High School Musical - back on stage again for 5 encore performances. If we can promote this and sell out all five performances, we are on track to raise the last $30,000 to reach our fundraising goal.

In my most recent post, back in April, I had intended to write here everyday like a journal - capturing the drama that has engulfed us. Its a shame I didn't do that. Its so much more interesting to read 'how are we ever going to move the stage set made up of 1.5 tons of steel and wood, stored in a barn back to the high school and assemble it in 3 days, in the snow?' ... than a laundry list of accomplishments set forth in a harried voice. It's ever so much more satisfying to read about how the grant deadline was met and the grant submitted just in time to allow me to get the planning and coordination complete for our Scotland Yard Sale fundraiser from the standpoint of 'can I do it?' ... rather than just bragging about having accomplished it. There is the pathos of reading about my excitement in gaining three new customers in one day who wanted to buy or sell homes, and then, losing all three the next day. The humor in reading about trying to craft letters for three separate causes, and almost sending the wrong letters to the wrong cause. There is my ongoing nagging of Bear to write thank you notes to the overwhelming number of people who have donated to his travel fund and my incessant need to track all of this on an Excel spreadsheet. And my nagging of Tessie to memorize the final geometry terms so she can pass the class. There's my year-long Chamber leadership class that is coming to an end, and the requisite hour long presentation that 5 of us have been working on for what seems like eons, along with my brutally honest answers to the class's satisfaction survey which has earned me a spot on an advisory committee for the class next year.

All this has taken place since the first part of April, along with auditions for, and both kids being cast in the high school's spring play, which required of course, help building the set. Then there's the story about the crazy but probably harmless Viet Nam vet who wants to buy a house and has somehow decided that I'm the right person to drive his homeless ass around to look at rural properties... ah, no thank you. The three day run of the Spring show and immediate strike on Monday to make room for the above mentioned ton of steel. There would have been venomous good fun as I sneeringly recounted the oh-so blonde prom committee demanding that the set be draped in black so it would not overshadow their "Night in Paris" prom decorations with which we had to share the stage. There was the mad rush to draft a letter to the editor thanking the community for it's support, while still begging them to buy tickets for the encore performances of High School Musical's "international touring company."

Which brings us to this week, where to this point I have applied for, interviewed, was offered and accepted a part time job, learned from my sister that my mother, miffed at receiving a 'form letter' from my son will not be sending a donation to his travel fund. I wrote and distributed a fabulous (if I do say so myself) press release, and coordinated kids and parents who made the rounds to media who picked it up to promote the final run of High School Musical, attended a board meeting, 2 planning meetings, and a workshop, and.... finally... updated this blog!

** OK, I'm talking to myself here... because this, I do for myself**
Starting tomorrow - I promise - and this time I mean it - there will be semi daily journal-like entries that deal with what is going on right then. Events, thoughts about them, and how I feel and what I think. No catching up, no storytelling setups, no need for a moral or a punchline at the end.