Have you ever watched someone have a magical theater experience?
It doesn’t happen very often. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had one myself, and tonight wasn’t one of them. In fact, I was honestly disappointed in the show itself, but that’s okay. Really. Tonight wasn’t for me, it was for Avi.
Tonight we saw Mary Poppins at the Benedum Center. Avi was transfixed watching the stage, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Every gasp, every squeal of delight, my heart melted. During the second act when the chimney sweeps dance, he grabbed my hand and whispered, wide eyed, “They have tap shoes! I love tap shoes!” At a certain point at the end of the performance his mouth was gaping for so long I was tempted to close it, but I didn’t want to break the spell.
This was by no means Avi’s first show. He’s seen several at the Benedum, even. But this was the first time I think everything really came together – a story he knows, with music he likes, in an environment he’s familiar with. He got a new shirt and pants for the occasion. And I managed to get us unbelievably great seats, because I wanted to make sure he could really take it all in.
He asked so many questions! He remains absolutely fascinated by all of the automation. He wanted to know how everything worked, and “how they know when to work them,” which led us down a wonderful rabbit hole to what even is a stage manager, anyway, mommy? He was of course totally stoked about the flying, so we talked about the harnesses and rigging and he was thrilled when he spotted the cables on the kites.
For a split second, I wished I was designing again with any real regularity. He’s never really seen one of my shows, and I don’t anticipate another opportunity for awhile, if ever.
But no, I’m really really happy where I am. I’m using my School of Drama education in a different way than I thought I would fifteen years ago, but I certainly am using it. And tonight, I got to be just an audience member.
Watching my little boy love the theater.