Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Un Viaje del Norte

Before I was a mom, I was a stage manager for live theater. It’s kind of like being a mom, only you take care of actors and backstage crew. You still have to put out just as many fires, stop just as many tantrums, and clean up just as many messes. The downside is there is a lot more paperwork. The upside is you get paid for all the craziness! And like parenting, its one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs you can do.

I worked for seven years at South Coast Repertory in Orange County, CA. They produce some of the finest theater in California. I was really proud to work there, and still miss it a lot. I left around the time I was pregnant with Noah and we were moving to Ohio so Michael could do his medical residency.

For each of those seven years, I worked on a Christmas play (a “play with Music”… not to be confused with a musical, because that would invite all kinds of union rules) called La Posada Magica, which became the way I celebrated Christmas. With a few changes here and there, it was the same people back each December to re-stage the play we had done the year before. I really grew to love the people I worked with, and really feel a void when Christmas time comes and I know the show goes on without me. I was by no means the head honcho, but as people on the stage management team came and went, I was the one who stayed with it year after year. It felt like it was kind of my baby. There is a little video clip of it here which REALLY does not do it justice!

Well, since we live nearby again, I went back to see my baby which has grown up, moved onto the new second stage, and has really blossomed. I brought along my REAL baby, Noah, who is five now and I felt ready for his first play.

It's a bit of a drive up the coast, an hour and twenty minutes. We got there with enough time to visit with the actors and musicians backstage before it began. I had told Noah about the guitarrón, the base guitar played in mariachi bands. He was really excited to get his hands on one and get a little lesson from Lencho Martinez, the sweetest guy you ever met.

Marcos Loya wandered in soon after. He wrote all the music for La Posada Magica, and is an awesome musician as well. If you were there, you might remember these guys from my wedding. Marcos played the wedding march on his guitar and some ambiant music for the whole ceremony. It gave our wedding ceremony the magical quality that the play has, as he underscores the whole show and plays almost continually through it, heightening the emotions each scene brings.
After giving and getting many hugs all around and squealing with delight way too many times, we headed into the theater. Our (free!) tickets were in the back, so I waited until the lights were about to go down, and moved down to some empty seats in the second row. No balcony seats for my little guy's first play! It's not allowed but I pulled out my point-and-shoot and snapped of a picture of the musicos playing the opening number.
The show was awesome! There were so many new wonderful bits and set pieces they had added or updated. A few things had been dropped as well, and some of those disappointed me, but what can you do? Things change. Noah stayed awake even though it was right in the middle of his nap time, sitting on my lap wide-eyed. He didn't seem to think it was the most awesome thing he had ever seen, but he did really seem to enjoy himself.
After the show, we went backstage and up to the greenroom to get Noah his lunch. Jamie, the stage manager, came in for his lunch too, so we got to do a lot of catching up on all the news and intrigue at the theater. Noah decided he would like to be a stage manager someday. He doesn't want to be an actor because he is worried he might be too afraid to stand up in front of an audience.
After lunch, it was time to hit the road again. Noah was asleep before we got out of the parking lot. We parked across the street at the largest mall in California a week before Christmas, so that's not really saying a lot. It was slow going. I have to say, too, that with him asleep, I actually enjoyed the long drive, listening to weekend NPR with no interuptions from children.
I drove through my old neighborhood before hitting the highway, and got a bit nostalgic. Then I turned toward home.
Now that we live so close (relatively speaking) to the theater, I might get up there a lot more often, keeping in better touch with the old crowd. Now that SCR has built their new second stage, the old second stage is now the third, and it seems they are using it for lots of good quality theater for kids! So, we may make this journey again soon.


Snowbird said...

Loved the pictures of Noah at La Posada. It must have been kind of neat taking your baby to see it as his first introduction to live theatre and for him to meet Lencho and Marcos. Now you need to drag out your wedding pictures and show him pictures of the guys at your wedding. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Neat!

Oh and I guess that would make Noah a third generation theatre nut, huh?

Barbs said...

GAH!!!! I can't believe you went to see the Posada and didn't call me!!!!???!!! I would have been there in a heart beat.

I saw the gang a couple weekends ago. It just isn't Christmas without seeing the Posada people.

What did you think of the new Gracie? I didn't get to see any of the show so I am very curious.

email me at bpushies@mac.com