The Hobbit–A Musical is officially underway (and really, shouldn’t it just be Hobbit! ? Everyone knows that the exclamation point implies musical. So much more economical. And funny). We’ve gotten through two of the EIGHT performances. I’ve done rather a lot of theater in my time and I don’t think I ever had eight performances, even of the good shows. By show seven, I expect energy to be in the toilet (not literally, although that might be cool, too) and the kids reciting their lines as if under duress. The Hobbit–A Court-Ordered Musical.
We’ve been slogging up to Thurmont 4 or 5 days a week since late May. It’s a 30 minute trip, so I think gas costs have just about off-set the appeal of a “free” theater experience. Julianna was desperate to do a show, the drama bug having bitten her hard. Drama “camps” run 300-400 bucks per kid AND you have to buy tix at the end so you can see the performance. (And yes of course I have considered opening the Braddock Heights Center for the Performing Arts. Instead, let’s just assume I’ve worked it all out, gotten a plan, chosen a show, lined up some kids, and then got bored with it. Because we know that’s what happens.) This program is free, and all kids who audition get a role. 56 tried out, 48 remain. The show is double cast and everyone has roles in both casts, usually a big role in one cast and minor in the other. It really would be a terrific program IF the folks running it weren’t so damned negative. The yelling! Lord knows I am far from the calm and reasonable mother I wish I were. I’m a yeller (no Old Yeller jokes. thank you), I’m afraid. But these people make me look medicated. Early on, I’d have to assure the kids (Ben mostly) that the director wasn’t really angry, she just says everything angrily. “Take out the tone,” I’d tell him, “and you’ll see the words aren’t angry.” As we’ve gotten closer to opening, the shaming has started. “You are going to be SO embarrassed when you are standing there not knowing your lines in front of the audience!” “These people have worked so hard to make it so that your show looks good and you are letting them down.” And the belittling, “Do you even KNOW what ‘be quiet’ MEANS?” I’m honestly a bit saddened that more kids don’t seem freaked out by this. But seriously, if someone was treating ME that way? I’d be so out of there. We’ve only hung in b/c it means so much to Julianna and to keep from stranding the other kids w/yet another drop-out.
On the whole, yelling aside, the kids have had fun. They’ve made new friends and it’s been a new experience. The production is pretty good. The sets are far more impressive than they are used to with school performances, real lighting, stage crew, all the luxuries of community theater. I think it’s good for kids to learn to memorize, but I’m too lazy to just institute poem memorizing or some such, so this has filled that gap, as well. We will all be SO glad when it’s over, though. Well, Julianna probably won’t be. She’d be happy in a dungeon if they were putting on a show.
Some photos! In Cast One, Julianna is The Great Goblin and Galion the Elf. Ben is Tom the Troll. Lily is Kili the Dwarf. Ben and Julianna can also come back at the end as Extra Hobbits.
In Cast Two, Julianna is Tom the Troll (yes, same part as Ben), Ben is Ori the Dwarf, and Lily is an Elven Huntsman. Julianna and Lily can come back as Hobbits at the end.
The Trolls killed last night. Well, they always kill, they’re trolls, but the audience really enjoyed them. The older kids are, not surprisingly, better on stage–more energy, better timing–so scenes with a concentration of older kids really sparkle. Especially–and I say this with no prejudice at all–if one of the kids is Julianna. The younger kids, Ben and Lily included, are doing a good job. The younger kids with big roles are really impressive. But the older kids are having more fun at it, they’re more relaxed. I imagine that will come, somewhat, to the others as we trudge through these performances, if they don’t all crap out from exhaustion.
Bilbo battling Smaug–none of my kids are in it, I just thought it was a clever idea for the dragon:
I’ve been assistant costume lady here. I made all the dwarf tunics and hoods (most too small, it seems. oops), the spider hoods, many goblin and hobbit vests, pink satin hobbit mobcaps, the elf collars, hats, headbands, and spats. Last night, we were missing a dwarf hood and I had to whip up another 30 min. before showtime. At intermission, a spider hood was missing, so I made her a cap out of a pair of tights. My trusty swiss army knife made several extra holes in belts. The kids tend to just drop costume bits as they go, so there’s a lot of ferreting around trying to find spats and hoods and gloves. And, of course, kids complaining that this belt is not Mine! I had a gold one! Show business!
Two down, six to go…