20: High School Musicals

No, this is not about the TV series. It’s about real musicals. On stage. With real performers. Young. High school kids.

I am not usually a big fan of musicals. Not sure why. I sometimes like a certain song from a musical, like Memory from Cats:

(and I cannot avoid but also include Barbra Streisand’s amazing version:)

Or Don’t cry for me Argentina from Evita:

But I never felt interest in musicals in general.

Well, when you have children, you get exposed, sometimes reluctantly, to things you didn’t have much interest in. When my daughter joined her high school drama class, Daddy had to go to the performances. Reluctantly. For me it was a double whammy. Not only I had to go watch a musical, but one performed by kids? That was going to be one of those sacrifices that parents do for their kids. OK, I’ll sacrifice a couple of hours of my precious time and make daughter happy.

So I sat down with the family to watch (Ahm… Nap…) Hairspray

Two hours later I sort of woke up from a lovely dream, pleasantly surprised and amazed. And it was not a nap. I had been wide awake. As far as could judge (not being a great expert in musicals), the show was actually really good! Those kids were as good as pros. And the entire production was very impressive. There where dozens of high school kid actors, a high school kid band, great costumes, impressive stage props, built and operated by, yes, high school kids. A real theater, with professional lighting, sound system – the works. These people take this stuff seriously! I could not see any difference in performance and production between the high school production and a commercial one. In fact, I think a high school accomplishment is that much more impressive: The cast is so young, inexperienced and not career actors (at least yet). All work is done by volunteers, who do it on their spare time because they have to spend most of their time being students. Money is usually very scarce. The production must be relatively big, to give all the students in the drama class an fair opportunity.

The following year, we went to see Urinetown

And then, Nice Work If You Can Get It:

These experiences made me realize the great potential, hidden in people so young of age. At high school age they already show us – the “old” people – what they can do and how far along they are on their way to adulthood. In many ways, they are already there. I called them high school kids. They are really high school adults.

2 thoughts on “High School Musicals

  1. I recently attended the piano recital for my granddaughter and was very pleasantly surprised at the talented musicians in children as young as 5 years old. My granddaughter is 9 and loves to play and is very good and that’s not a proud grandma *winks*. Kids of all ages are amazing if we ahem…stay awake and listen.

    1. This is an interesting phenomenon that I have observed over the years. We – adults – treat kids as… well, kids. We assume they are immature, irresponsible, unreliable and need to be managed and controlled all the time on pretty much everything. So we do that. We don’t let them run their own life. But when kids are left to take care of themselves, they often surprise us with their ability to do so reasonably well. Kids can do much more and much better than we think. Surely, there is a lot they still don’t know or understand, but actually, they are capable of much more than we think. It’s a sort of art to find the optimal balance. In those high school musicals, I would never guess the actors are underage. As far as I can see they are adults.

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