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Monday, June 30, 2008

CHILDREN OF EDEN: The final performance and out-of-control strike party!

This is the way the world begins: not with a whimper but with a bang!

Yesterday was the final performance of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Children of Eden. After the amazing reaction that the show got on Saturday night, could Sunday afternoon possibly be any better? Judging by the approval of the packed auditorium at Rockingham Community College - the biggest audience of the entire run - the answer to that is an emphatic "yes"!

The show went great! One funny thing that happened came during the scene where Father (Neil Shepherd) is banishing Adam (Stephen Hale) and Eve (Rose Cutuli Wray) from the Garden: when Father smites the Tree of Knowledge, the special effects crew had the tree rigged so that there was a very loud flash of light and smoke,as the tree splits in two. Well, they must have put some extra powder in the flashpot 'cuz it was a way loud "BANG!" yesterday. And while those of us who were Storytellers were looking wrathfully at Adam and Eve, we heard one guy in the audience say that "I thought that I'd been shot." I think everyone had to fight hard to not giggle when that happened :-)

Act I continued, and I took to the stage for the last time as Seth in the act's final scene, and this time... I don't know how it happened but I had a ton of tears streaming down my face as I approached the dying Eve when she gives Seth the Staff of Adam. Maybe I was holding back for this final show and I didn't realize it. People in the audience noticed it too.

Then Act II began, and "Generations" seems to have been a big hit. But then later on came "Ain't It Good", which really had the audience rockin'! I think that might have been the most enthused response for a single song during the entire six-show run.

Well, not long after came the show's final song "In The Beginning". We took our bows and fled up the aisles to meet the audience members as they were leaving. And then a very funny thing happened: it started to rain hard. You see, because of the weird way the auditorium is designed, during the show everyone in the cast has to walk around the auditorium to get from one place to the other, and for those on stage left this means exiting the building and running around outside. It has been a bigtime worry that during a show it might be raining and that the audience would wonder why our costumes were so wet. Lo and behold it didn't rain during a single performance... but immediately after the final one, the bottom fell out of the sky and this whole area got drenched. Was that God's way of saying He approved of our performance? That's what most of the cast said they liked to believe :-)

All the while it was raining we had to strike the set. My task was to help take down the risers and the "God perch" that Neil stood on most of the time during the show as Father looking down on the world. After all that was done (in less time than we'd originally anticipated) we were supposed to go to one of the crew members' house for a poolside strike party. But the rain and lightning kinda canceled that plan. So then Rose had the idea of having all the catered food delivered to the student center at Rockingham Community College, since we were all already there anyway.

So that's where we were from 7 last night on 'til almost 10:30, munching on hot dogs and hamburgers after being treated to the backstage crew premiering their new show "Children of Eating".

And then there was the karaoke...

I'm not going to post all the pictures of what happened last night 'cuz some among the cast and crew have threatened me with litigation if certain photos ever show up on this blog, but I can at least post the ones of myself acting crazy...

The first is what happened when I took the mike and belted out a rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody":

And then came the new group Mama, Papa and Seth (Roses Cutuli Wray, Stephen Hale and Chris Knight) singing "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" by Cher:

The "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance got a standing "O" and most of the audience even waved their opened cell phones. It was hilarious!

Then not long afterward the party had to draw to a close, and after being together for two months we had to say our goodbyes for now. But not goodbye forever, because just about everyone is now a Facebook or Myspace (or both) friend with each other, and we're already talking about doing more shows together in the future.

And right now, on the day after... I definitely feel like a better person for having done this. I tried out for Children of Eden almost on a lark, not expecting to land a role because frankly, I can't sing well. I even told the directing staff that I would have been happy to just help backstage if they needed it. I ended up not only in the show but also playing a fairly important character. This is a musical that I've wanted to be a part of for almost ten years, since first seeing it performed at Elon in 1998. Most people have no idea how big a dream that has been for me. Two months later and I get to say with a lot of pride that I not only got to live that dream, but I'm taking from it a lot of precious memories and very many people who I feel like are not just friends, but family. And it's going to be an experience that I am going to be forever thankful to God and a lot of good people for happening as it did.

(By the way, special thanks to Mike Jerrell for the amazing modification that he made to part of my Jedi Knight costume, that is going to make that a much better outfit for me to wear from now on!)

"For every moment of our life is the beginning..."

Now we begin. And I like to believe that the best days are yet to come.