If you look closely at this photo, you can probably tell it’s just a rehearsal. The scenery is not quite finished, there is no orchestra. The finale costumes aren’t completely ready, some still need alterations; so there are some colors mixed in with the stunning gold, white, and black. There are no face mics, no stage makeup. They were supposed to have two weeks left of rehearsals before the show.
There are some things you can’t see in this photo. You can’t tell that the kids hadn’t had a rehearsal with the tech crew yet. At times, the kids spoke their lines over the voices on the soundtrack, because the orchestra wasn’t in the pit. You can’t tell that their director was calling out to the kids running the lights, giving them their cues.
This photo doesn’t show what went on immediately before the kids took the stage. The posts and texts that went out earlier in the day: get your costumes ready, tell your parents to come to rehearsal today; we will treat today’s rehearsal like a show. No one wanted to speak it aloud, that this might be the only time we get to see their “Chorus Line,” as schools, universities, sporting events, and theme parks began to shut down all over.
Parents gathered costumes crumpled in closets, on the floor, from dirty laundry piles. We dropped them off at the school. Those of us who could, rearranged our schedules and were lucky enough to sit in the auditorium and watch this unfold.
The kids sat on stage for a pre-rehearsal pep talk from their directors. They held hands. Some of them cried. Many of them worked hard to hold it in; the disappointment, the uncertainty, the questions. But they have faith in their teachers, and I know they have faith in each other, I could see that beneath the raw emotion.
Their director shouted, “LET’S DO THIS!” and the kids took their places. The lights went down.
And then… it happened.
The spoke, they sang, they danced. They told their stories. The kids left their hearts on that stage.
They touched us. And we felt it. This wasn’t just a rehearsal.
For two and a half hours, time stopped. And I was so caught up in watching the performance that I didn’t even realize it was that long. I let myself go, I let everything go for those hours. There were no news updates, no lists to be completed. No tasks to finish. There was only the stage and the lights and these kids. We all left everything – somewhere else.
I saw the hard work, I saw the details. I saw the passion and the love that went into this show. I saw the best of us on that stage. We lift each other up, we hold each other in the good times and when things are rough. It’s what we do, it’s how we carry on.
And I was so filled with hope. We are resilient, we are loving, we are a community.
We are story tellers. And our stories will live to see another day. We have each other. We always have and we always will.
What else is there?
“Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can’t regret
What I did for love, what I did for love
Look, my eyes are dry
The gift was ours to borrow
It’s as if we always knew
And I won’t forget what I did for love
What I did for love
Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love’s what we’ll remember
Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won’t forget, can’t regret
What I did for love…”