Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 March Madness

 March Madness. For most, those two words imply college basketball. For us, though, that means seeing school plays, or rather as many school plays as we can possibly see in only four weekends, keeping in mind two of those weekends Ashley is acting in her school play, while Don is stage manager. And GO!

Well, we cheated a bit. we saw Julia in "Disney's Little Mermaid Jr." at the end of February (date changed due to school testing). It was fun to see Ashley's "sister" from Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe in a completely different
role. She has really grown in her talent -- adding singing in a Caribbean-style as she played everybody's favorite crustacean. 

The next day (the last day in February) we saw our favorite child star in "The Green Bird" at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. We have been following Chris since he was younger than Ashley in "Bye, Bye Birdie." It has been our treat as honorary aunt and uncle to watch him grow in his talent. We are only disappointed in ourselves for taking three years to see him in a college production. We HAVE to go next year. He really puts his entire body into each role, no that is not is regular nose. They all got masks for this show.

The following weekend it snowed, forcing Princeton Friends School to cancel a production of "Willy Wonka, Jr." We'll have to try again next year and be better organized about ordering tickets.

We were on top of getting tickets to see Les Miserables at Notre Dame High School. It was beyond unbelievable! It was easy to forget they are only high school students and not aspiring Broadway actors. To think just last year we saw Alexis in "A Rockin' Tale of Snow White," and this year she was Gavroche. Her voice is so powerful you can hear her without a microphone in every corner of the theater. David's portrayal of Javert was spine-chilling. It has been wonderful following his growth as an actor and singer.

The next day I saw "The Wizard of Oz" at Lawrence Middle School -- the school Ashley would go to if she went to public school, so we know some of the kids from pre-school, kindergarten, and around town. They also had about 30 grade school kids playing scene-stealing munchkins. 

The next weekend was Nate's bar mitzvah and more play practice. We did not see any shows that weekend.

Then it was time for "Sound of Music" at Ashley's school. They have two casts, the blue and the gold ones (in my mind, Blue is the Best, and Gold is the Greatest, but I haven't been able to get that phrase to catch on). Ashley was Louisa in the Blue Cast. Don was the stage manager for both casts. On the last night, Ashley was on stand-by to play Frederick, since the boy who played Frederick had been out sick all week, and the boy from the other cast who played Frederick had other plans that night. It would have been quite an experience, but fortunately he recovered.

The following weekend Ashley and I saw the Lawrence Intermediate School's production of "Disney's Little Mermaid, Jr." It was fun to book end the month with the same production that started it all. Ashley pointed out that the first time we saw it was with middle schoolers, and the second time was with 5th and 6th graders, so it was unfair to compare them, but they both did great. 

We really wrapped up March Madness with "Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Paper
Mill Playhouse -- a theater we have wanted to go to for years, but always decided against it because of its distance. The production was fabulous. There are rumors it is heading to Broadway (if not real rumors, then let me be the first to start them here). The quality at Paper Mill is outstanding! One of the members of the chorus (who had a solo as Claude's brother) was on Broadway as the "Phantom of the Opera." Not just in "Phantom," but THE Phantom. Yup, that is a few notches above community theater. We deemed it as still too far away for anything but the most extraordinary of productions -- like this one. We do try to see a Broadway show each year, and this satisfied that desire, without making Ashley suffer through a day in NYC. The poor girl really detests going to NYC.

There are always more shows to see. That is one of the best parts about living in this area. 

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