When “High School Musical” became so popular a few years ago, it was nothing new to me. I had been part of 8 high school musicals in my day — they’re one of my favorite high school memories.
The fall and spring musicals put on by the high school Advanced Choir each year were big entertainment in our small town. My family went to them way before I was ever of an age to participate. I remember skipping out to the car after the musical ended, humming a catchy tune I’d picked up that evening (“Tea for Two” is pinging in my head as I type this). Mom always said, “I hope when you’re old enough, you will be in the musical …” Then I had to gulp, because as a chubby child convinced I was obese, I had an awful fear. The end of each big song tended to involve the guys on stage picking up the girls. I was sure that no guy would be capable of lifting me, and I envisioned many disasters that might ensue from the effort.
As things turned out, I needn’t have worried. I did spend all 4 years of high school in the Advanced Choir, because of my piano playing skills. I was part of all 8 high school musicals during my tenure, but it was in the orchestra pit rather than on stage, trading out piano detail with the other pianists (side note: I wonder how many high school choirs today have so many kids who can play piano at that level? Our choir always had so many that we had to ration out the songs among us. We also accompanied every piece performed in the choir concerts).
I was thinking about these musicals lately, and spent a fun few minutes pulling out my old yearbooks. These are the musicals we put on during my years:
- Hello Dolly
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Annie Get Your Gun
- 110 in the Shade
- Seventeen (I remember we were all pretty disappointed when this “no name” musical was chosen and announced)
- Plain & Fancy
Maybe it’s just the confidence of youth coloring my memories, but these shows always seemed extraordinarily well-done. Sets were ordered from New York. All the leads really could sing. Costumes were professional. Everyone (well, almost everyone) seemed to know his or her lines. Microphones and spotlights worked. There was never a problem selling plenty of tickets in the community for the several nights the shows ran. We were good!
I spent many hours trudging door to door schlepping band cheese for sale, or phoning church families trying to convince them to come to the choir chili supper, but musical tickets were always an easy sell. Everyone wanted to come to the shows!
And such is the memory of youth that, while my kids regularly remind me that I’ve forgotten something they told me yesterday, you can get me started on a dialogue from Camelot or a song from Fiddler on the Roof, and I’m off to the races, remembering it verbatim. To this day, I love musical theater, and I love listening to show tunes. Is this because of my teenage musical experience? Interesting to ponder …
Good, good memories. Did your high school do plays or musicals? Did you participate?