Monday, July 25, 2005

The WalkAbout Finale... Part I

You know, sometimes things happen, and when its done, you sit back and wonder "how in the world did this happen?"

For instance... how did I end up with someone so wonderful and beautiful as Stephanie? It is a puzzlement. And, why does traffic on 65 sometimes seem to come to a standstill for no reason at all? There's no accident to be found. Furthermore, how does Paris Hilton even have a career? I mean, Jesus loves her, I'm sure of it, but it ain't for her talent.

And then I ask... how in world did this weekend come off as successful as it did?

This past weekend was WalkAbout's annual dinner theater. WalkAbout is the name of the middle school drama ministry at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), and I've been leading the team for about 6 years (well... four... I took about 1.5 years off ages ago). Each year, we've managed to do a dinner theater in the summertime, each bigger than the last. Costumes, lights, mics, props, the whole works.

Well, this season, I came back after a year layoff. I had 10 kids to work with for this DT, and a bunch of sketches that I knew we could handle. And, after dropping a couple that I realized we coudln't handle, we were set. Only problem was, practices. We started in April, but through May and June, we had this one on vacation, we had those two out of the country on missions, we had those three away at Memaw's house for dinner, that one at the beach and then all of them away at summer camp.

A few years ago, the same problem occurred... we had trouble leading up to the show, a disasterous dress rehearsal (DR being the ONLY time we can practice with lights, mics and costumes before the actual shows) and a director--me--with no sense of hope. Yet, God taught me grace and mercy that night, via a Jones Soda bottle (i'll retell it here on this site one day) and so this year, I was ready.

I had been emailing Paula, mother of one of our guys, for weeks with random requests for this, that and the other--and she pretty much came through each time. I think I could have asked for a live African elephant, and she would have responded later "okay, I've got the fireman's hat, the cart and the clipboard, and we're working on the elephant. I think Dana Guthrie is bringing it Friday" Remarkable woman (she's going to NYC too!)

Thursday, I met our lights & sounds guys--Trey & Justin for the first time. I walked them through the paces, and aside from having one girl a little freaked out--which I managed to calm down--it went remarkably well.

Let me explain why this startled me... I've had three dress rehearsals prior to this one, and none were good. The first was a mess, the second had our lights and sound guy, Daniel, not arrive until 815p (giving us one hour to practice) and the third ended after 1 hour because the power went out and a monsoon came down. So when the DR went right tonight... um... uh... oh boy.

Friday came, and I had the day off work, partially because I had a Dr's appt--my first real physical in 15 years or so... I walked having had blood taken, and being immunized with Tetnus and TB shots. Not good times, bad times.

Friday afternoon, I had a good lunch with Tebe "Aaayy Maaan! Aww Yeah" Shaw, then read Harry Potter (I was still on Order of the Phoenix at this time) then went to church, where things were still coming together nicely. Paula, Karen Cheney and several other Moms were assembling the room, and all the kids were arriving. Skip to an hour or two later, we prayed and I took my place behind the control board.

Justin turned the stagelights up, and Paige Cheney entered. And we were off. By mid-way through the first sketch, "Baby Got Book", the audience was rolling. Dinner was great (I didnt even know what we had until about 6p that night--not that I ate any of it), the skits were great, and by intermission, the kids were pumped up. I played Billy Joel's "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" during intermission, the Pastor loved the show, and the finale, Van Halen's "Right Now" went off without a hitch. Not a perfect show, but darn near close to it.

I went home, read Harry Potter until 4am, passed out on the couch and slept until 10am, not even noticing when my lovely wife ran out of the house in a panic late for her 10am meeting.

Saturday night's performance had a few glitches, one of which was frightening... it seems that our spotlight, which was essential for one of the skits, blew. Trey managed to fix it, so we went on. This night, we had a few microphone snitches, some lighting issues, and during a scene when Josh was supposed to boogie to a few seconds of "Its Not Unusual" by Tom Jones, the almost brand new cd somehow skipped over to "Whats New Pussycat". Josh kept dancing.

"Mutiny in the Vineyard", which I think I can safely say Friday's was one of the Top Ten Best WalkAbout performances in the teams history, was brought down Saturday by mic problems... plus the crowd didnt laugh as much overall. Little Erin said it best: "...maybe all those people who came back thought our jokes were old now."

And towards the very end, in what I think is God's provision, the spotlight that we didnt need anymore (because we finished our last skit using it) blew again. So all in all... not too bad. I'm glad its over, though.

This was my final WalkAbout directorial job, I think... its bittersweet, because everything about this team--its name, its verse, its 'bare feet' purpose--came from a time long ago, back before I barely knew Steph, back when Matt Grimes (middle school pastor) was early in collge, back when Eddy McBroom ruled the middle school with a buffet fist. I was there at the beginning, with Andrea Brobst, Meredith Osborne, Katie Noland and Lauren Long... four of the Alpha class at the beginning of 1999.

The Beta class came in for the 99-00 season, bringing with it Lori Fine, Jana Blackwell, Scott Latta and Lora Haghighi, to name a few... then for 00-01, the Gammas, with Kourtney & Kandice Kelley. The Delta class in 01-02 brought in Garrett Cheney, Betsy Clark, Marcus Clement, Caroline Blackburn, Mamie Clark, Tama Davis... perhaps the strongest line up since the Betas. I was done then, and from 02-03, Dana took over. WalkAbout died in the fall of 2003, and remained dead in 2004... until the summer of 04, when the Zetas came back--Kayla, Will, Bradley, Amanda...

...and finally, the Eta Class, from 2004-05... Joey, Paige, Tyler, Jessica, the other Jessica, Michele, Erin, Molly, Austin, Josh, Morgan and Elizabeth Ann.

Now, since I'm moving on to high school theatrics at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) I hope that someone will come soon and continue WalkAbout, as its something that needs to go on. Its an awesome way to help kids find their ministry in drama... or realize its not there. I'll conclude with more WalkAbout thoughts, plus my opinions on the ten greatest WalkAbout performances, ever, in The WalkAbout Finale, Part 2


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