Blog: Our Reality Show

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  • A Weekend of Blessings

    It's been a hectic, busy couple of weeks as we steamroll through the summer and toward the fall. Last weekend was full of photo shoots, a massive yard project, and this past week featured freelance work on several different projects.

    Today, Jill and I saw two of our kids in performances — Jeremiah in a ballet showcase this afternoon, followed by Emma in opening night of "Legally Blonde" with Kate, Ben, and Jeremiah in attendance.

    "Legally Blonde," the annual show for teens that is sponsored by the Metropolitan Performing Arts Theatre, was really terrific. Cast 1 — the principals are double cast — was spot on and the show moved well. It was a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to seeing the other cast on closing night next weekend. If you get the chance, see this show at the Workhouse Arts Center before the run ends; you won't regret it.

    Unfortunately, the running and schlepping meant that it's now after midnight and I didn't get the chance to say "Happy Birthday" to my mom, who turned 73 yesterday. But since I know she checks Facebook on her iPhone or iPad before going to bed, I did send her this message:

    "I'm very fortunate. I know that. And I'm extremely fortunate to have a mom I love and admire so much. She has spunk (in this case, I don't hate spunk), chutzpah, and a love for life as she goes into her next year on this earth. It's a little belated on the East Coast, just under the wire on CST, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!"

    This next week has three photo projects on tap, including a child's baptism on Sunday afternoon, plus more freelance writing and work for the publisher's company I represent in the D.C. area.

    It's never boring, that's for sure... And I'm reminded daily of the blessings I have been given.

  • The Reality of Perspective

    Not too long ago, I bumped into Jim Moore, the musical director for “Ragtime,” while Ben was in a ballet class.

    “Did you realize what we were getting you into?” he asked.

    We laughed for a moment — fleeting moments are all you seem to get when one show ends and the search for another begins — and soon parted ways.

    This is one of theatre’s little oddities that no one prepares a parent for — watching your child have extremely intense, fulfilling relationships with people whose talents far outnumber yours, then seeing those relationships evaporate or be forever altered within moments or days. The boomerang of emotions your child feels is sometimes more dramatic than what you see on stage.

    Fortunately, as we’ve learned, the theatre community in general is small and close knit. Chances are, if you go from show to show, you’ll always meet someone with a connection to someone you know. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll work with people you like (and who you hope feel the same about you) more than once.

    Ben has been extremely fortunate to work with a variety of interesting, creative people over the past four-plus years he has been doing this. When each show has ended, he has mourned its loss, and wondered if he would ever see those people again. We try to reassure him, and let him know that he will, just in a different context.

    ••••••

    Perspective is a funny thing, and in many ways, it’s only gained by experience and the passage of time. Little things — fragments of memory — that seemed insignificant in the moment take on greater resonance with perspective. Things that once seemed huge shrink and drift away when new memories or experiences are added.

    As parents, this is something we try to teach our kids, that perspective and context do matter. It’s hard for kids — and in some cases, adults — to understand that a break up, or a show closing, or a high school sporting event that didn’t end well is not the end of the world. It’s even tougher to comprehend that something you cared so passionately about is but a memory.

    That last sentence applies to parents, too. When you see your child immersed and psyched about an activity, no matter what it is, the end and subsequent transition always is a bit of a shock to the system. You’ve juggled and scrambled and rescheduled to successfully achieve the impossible, and then it’s done and over in a flash. Yes, inevitably we are relieved to get our lives back — until the next thing comes along, that is — but we often miss it, too.

    Ben’s run in “Billy Elliot” — he marked 10 months in the show last week — has been a fascinating experience for a number of reasons. And even though it is a long-running show with no chance of closing any time soon, it has presented a number of challenges on the transition front. Ben has seen a number of kids — castmates and peers — leave as their voices change and contracts end.

    The reality of the business — that nothing is ever permanent — regularly hits home.

    Almost two years ago, I had no way of realizing the impact that “Ragtime” would have on the lives of everyone in our family. The show’s abrupt end caught all of us off guard, and it took a while to bounce back. It was such a close-knit group of people, which is something I’m reminded of every time we see someone from the show on the street.

    I can see now, far more clearly, why people try to work with the same folks over and over. The ability to collaborate and create is made far easier when you have people you know who are just as passionate as you about a particular project. Ben is extremely fortunate to have known so many kind people who have that ongoing passion.

    Two years ago, taking that leap into the unknown — a leap of faith without a bungee cord attached — was exciting, thrilling, exhausting and scary as hell for everyone in our family. And it remains just as exciting, thrilling, and yes, exhausting and scary today.

    No matter what happens next, it’s been one heckuva ride.