Jenntertainment's Weblog

Adventures in children's theatre.

What I Did on My Vacation July 8, 2013

Filed under: My Job is Weirder Than Your Job — jenntertainment @ 11:29 pm
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     My favorite school activity was always Creative Writing, except for when the assignment was one of those awful “What I Did on My Vacation” journals. Other kids would write things like “I visited my grandparents in South Carolina and went fishing. It was fun.” If it was a really good vacation, they might write “We went to Disney World and my brother threw up on Space Mountain.”

     My summer journals were never so mundane. In fact, I still have one from the fourth grade that reads like this:

     “I had a lot of rehearsals on this ‘vacation.’ You couldn’t really call it a vacation, though, since I feel like I worked harder than I do when I’m at school. We had rehearsals almost every day for a play we’re doing called Gypsy and even though I’m only in the first act, there is a lot to be done. Gypsy is a play about a real-life stripper named Gypsy Rose Lee, and I play her when she’s a little girl (before she’s a stripper, that is).

     “When I’m not on stage, I’m usually helping backstage with costumes or microphones. It was really difficult finding ways to hide the microphones this time, since most of the girls hardly wear anything, but my dad says that I’m the expert. I also get to help Michelle with all of her costume changes, which keeps me pretty busy because she’s the lead. We also had to paint and build the set, and that takes a long time. Some nights we were there until two or three in the morning, but to be honest, I like those nights the best.

     “My favorite part of the play is “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.” That’s when all the different strippers show off their routines, like light-up panties, butterfly wings and Mazeppa who likes to ‘bump it with a trumpet.’ It’s so funny.  After all that work, mom says we need a vacation from our vacation. I agree.”

     It may come as no surprise that I rarely got to read my reports out loud. Not all of my essays were about strippers; some were about learning how to load fake guns, getting makeup lessons from drag queens, or explaining the origin of the term avante garde, which I learned during a production of Mame. I vividly remember consulting my teacher’s aide about how to spell it, but she simply raised her eyebrows and said “Well, if it ain’t in the dictionary, and if I ain’t heard of it, then it ain’t a real word.” That was the first time I ever felt smarter than an adult.

     What did my teachers think I was doing with my nights and weekends, and how many times did they consider calling child services? Fortunately, my principal acted alongside me in many productions, including Gypsy, and we had a secret pact. “You never tell anyone at school that you’ve seen me dance in chaps,” he bribed, “and I’ll give you excused absences on your opening nights.”  It was a pretty good deal.

     A few of my friends were also theatre kids, raised in similarly unconventional environments. Like me, my friend Laura loathed Career Day assignments, because neither of us could explain our parents properly. While I tried to enlighten my classmates on the intricacies of the burlesque striptease, she had to tell everyone that her father sang at outdoor festivals dressed as Uncle Sam.

     The confused faces of our peers were the first signs to us that we were a little different. Then we both grew up and found out that not everyone has a costume closet in their house, and that most people spend their 4th of July attending fireworks shows, not standing outside on the roof of an 18-wheeler wearing earplugs and watching your mother call pyro shots in time to the 1812 Overture.

     I was quite content to lead a double-life; one filled with reading, writing, and kickball; the other filled with music, glitter, and provocative dances. The thing is, you don’t realize that your family is different until someone tells you so. But 17 years later, with a house in the suburbs and a job that sometimes requires fishnets, I still struggle to answer the simple question of “What do you do?” without feeling like that little kid standing in front of her class, reading an essay about strippers.

 

Career Day February 24, 2012

Every Spring, we get invited to speak at a circuit of career day assemblies at local elementary schools. Most of these fairs are held in the school’s gymnasium or lunch room and feature grown-up after grown-up talking dryly about their jobs in finance or law while students try not to fall asleep. Usually crammed between fractions and lunch time, these assemblies seem to be less about helping students find answers to the age-old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and more about grown-up show and tell. When faced with a room full of kids, every adult wants to look hip, even if they’re talking about accounting.

The good part is that working at a children’s theatre looks like the height of glamour and excitement if you’re still in the fourth grade. When compared side by side with a career as an insurance salesman or a dental hygienist, we look like the bomb. While other vendors give kids free calculators and samples of toothpaste, we do demonstrations of puppetry and fencing! Plus, we give them real pirate gold to take home. I don’t want to brag, but we’re kind of a tough act to follow. Especially if you’re a software engineer and give a Power Point presentation about how to make Power Point presentations.

I imagine that we’re quite annoying to everyone else at the fair. Nicely polished, sensibly-suited professionals come in to speak to students about their work, armed with flow charts that depict the staggering number of years of college you will need to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. All while we make balloon animals and wear silly hats. Take that, rocket science! Why study to be a lawyer when you can just play one on tv?

Our biggest competition at these events is the local petting zoo, which for some inexplicable reason always brings baby alligators to the assembly. Call me crazy, but I consider any reptile that must be contained in a steel cage with a leather strap around its mouth to be an ineligible candidate for a petting zoo, and I would encourage said alligator to seek employment elsewhere. Of course, the kids go crazy over reptiles and the presumably badass park rangers that work with them. I would rather lick a public toilet than pet a baby alligator, but that is just one of the many things that makes me different from a 9-year-old boy.

No matter your position on baby alligators, I think we can all agree that the worst person to be at a fourth-grade job fair is the funeral director. It’s a hard sell, especially when your handout is a pamphlet on grief counseling and your show-and-tell consists of formaldehyde, embalming fluid, and a baby casket.

~ I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this blog is a work of non-fiction and that I’m not making any of this up. These elementary school job fairs actually have baby alligators and baby caskets, and if I ever find out who’s in charge of coordinating these things, I plan on writing a formal complaint. ~

At the end of the assembly, the students have to rank each career from “Most Appealing” to “Least Appealing.” Then they must compare and contrast the answers to four questions in the hopes that they will, at the ripe age of 9, discover their true calling in life based on a systematic matrix of data. Unfortunately, this Q&A session is when the students begin to back away from a sparkling life in children’s theatre with fear and dread in their eyes.

What are the average work hours? Always.
What is the average salary? Hilarious.
What skills are necessary for this profession? Creativity, passion, insomnia, patience, tact, and hot-gluing.
What advice would you offer someone who is interested in pursuing this field? Don’t get a dog.

After all that, dental hygiene starts to look pretty good.

Joking aside, I have to admit that, despite how much I truly love my job, I don’t really consider children’s theatre to be a viable career option for, well, most people. Just like other fairy tale professions (Princess, Cowboy, Mattress Tester), there is no career path or road sign that points directly to “Children’s Theatre Director,” even if you’ve taken the time to get one of those highfalutin MFAs (and believe me, those first two letters don’t stand for “Master” or “Fine”). You can’t travel that route in pursuit of an amazing paycheck, incredible hours, high recognition, glitz, or glamour. Instead, you can only follow your heart down the path that says “I-Believe-I-Can-Make-the-World-a-Better-Place-by-Inspiring-Creativity-in-the-Minds-of-Tomorrow.”

What’s at the end of that path? Stay tuned. 🙂

 

Is Theatre Right for Your Child?

Every year, parents across the country are forced to send their children somewhere – anywhere – after school, in an attempt to keep their kids entertained and out of trouble until dinnertime. The choices are many, and some parents may find it overwhelming to choose the perfect extracurricular activity for their child. I have taken the liberty of creating this simple quiz to aid puzzled parents in the decision-making process.

1. Does your child excel in sports?
A) My child is the next Michael Phelps
B) My child can run, if necessary
C) My child prefers to challenge the mind instead of the body
D) My child has a written note from a counselor excusing him/her from gym class forever

2. Does your child make friends easily?
A) Very Easily: My child has never met a stranger
B) Somewhat Easily: My child has a lot of friends on Facebook
C) Struggles Somewhat: My child has a few close friends
D) Struggles: My child’s friends are mostly imaginary

3. Does your child tan well?
A) Like a Greek god/goddess
B) Burns a little, then tans
C) Burns to a crisp
D) Not Applicable; we can’t get him/her to go outside

4. Does your child have any allergies or dietary restrictions?
A) No known allergies
B) Mild seasonal allergies
C) Moderate seasonal allergies and a mild peanut allergy
D) Severe environmental allergies and extreme allergies to nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, latex, chocolate, and cotton.

5. Is your child currently receiving emotional/psychological counseling?
A) He/She has never received counseling
B) Not currently, but he/she has received counseling in the past
C) Our family attends one counseling session per week
D) He/She attends one or more family session and two or more private sessions per week

6. What does your child think about the shows Glee and Smash?
A) Likes the stories, but hates all that senseless singing and dancing.
B) Likes it, but isn’t obsessed.
C) Loves it, and actually thinks that it’s cool to walk around with an “L” on his/her forehead.
D) Loves it, but thinks he/she could sing or dance it better.

Sports
If you answered mostly A’s, then your child is best suited for sports activities. Whether it’s horseback riding, swimming, soccer or lacrosse (whatever that is), your child will excel in a competitive atmosphere that keeps them physically active and perfectly tanned all year long.

Academics
If you answered mostly B’s, then permanent relocation to the world of academia is in your child’s future. Encourage their studies by buying them pocket protectors, and letting them join the math club, chess club, or debate team. Though they may have some difficulty fitting in at school, they will eventually find their niche, and possibly win the Nobel Prize.

Crafts
If you answered mostly C’s, then your child would be best suited for a life of kitsch and craft glue. They may squirrel away in their room for hours at a time, but when they resurface, they will have created a memento of lasting beauty. Enroll them in classes at your local craft store, or find a scrapbooking club. If their genius is cultivated, they may end up with their own show on the DIY Network.

Theatre
If you answered mostly D’s, then please take your child immediately to the nearest children’s theatre. If your child is bookish, sensitive, creative, and needy, then he/she is the perfect candidate for a life on the boards. The boys will learn to apply makeup and sew sequins on their clothes, while the girls will learn how to use a mitre saw and open paint cans with their teeth. Most importantly, they will be surrounded by kindred spirits, and be happier than you ever thought possible. I hope to meet you and your child very soon. 🙂

 

The Homing Mushroom February 23, 2012

This is a story about a mushroom. However, in order for me to tell you that story, I must first tell you another one; a story about a question.

The very first musical that my boss directed in our hometown was also the very first musical that I was ever in, outside of church pageants and school chorus concerts. I vividly remember swinging on the play set in our backyard one day after school and seeing my mom open the sliding glass door onto our back porch. When she opened the door she also opened her mouth and asked me one question: “Would you like to audition for a play?”

To say that this question changed my life is the understatement of the century. In reality, that question affected many lives more than anyone can possibly fathom. Because of that question, that invitation to do something new and exciting, my world was transformed! Because of that question, an infinite realm of possibilities was opened to me, and my life slowly began to take shape. Because of that question, I met my future best friends, my future co-workers, and my maid of honor, not to mention my future mentor and partner in theatre crime. Perhaps I’m being a bit melodramatic, but that’s always been my way, which is yet another reason why that question “would you like to audition for a play?” was so impactful for me.

There are only two more things about this question that you need to know before I continue with my story. The first is that after answering “yes,” we went to the theatre (which was really a room that was being rented out by the local police precinct, but that is a third and fourth story altogether), filled out some forms, and whammo! I was in a musical. The second is that the name of that musical was Peter Pan, and as everyone knows, Peter Pan takes place in Never Never Land, where the Lost Boys have an underground hideaway that has an entrance disguised as a tree trunk and a chimney disguised as a mushroom.

This is a story about a mushroom.

The mushroom that was used in that production of Peter Pan was custom-built out of an old sonotube, vinyl, and some stuffing. In my memory, it was painted yellow with purple polka dots and a brown stump, but I’ve seen it painted in so many different ways over the years (dare I say decades?) that I am likely wrong about this. In Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Smee stop to rest on this oversized toadstool in the forests of Never Never Land, only to have their britches catch on fire in an overplayed bit of physical comedy. When they see the smoke coming from the bottom of the mushroom, they realize that it is, in fact, the hiding place of Peter Pan! The plot thickens.

After this one scene, the mushroom is no longer relevant to the story, and it spends the rest of the play off stage. But as we all know, children’s fairy tales almost always include enchanted forests, which almost always call for a magical mushroom. The mushroom might be a bed for Thumbelina, a hiding place for Snow White, or even a snack for a famished hunter. In any case, once our giant, polka-dotted mushroom was finished with its run in Peter Pan, it had many other roles to play in many other stories, building itself quite an extensive performance resume.

Over the years, the mushroom became somewhat of a local celebrity. Those of us in the theatre community would always look for it, wondering how it would be recycled next. If a character ran into the woods, chances were he would find himself tripping over this now-famous fungus. In time, it became a challenge to see how our director would incorporate it into each show. Sometimes it would be covered with a cloth and serve as an ottoman in someone’s living room, or sometimes it would be bedazzled and used as a footstool for trying on glass slippers. Sometimes it was just on stage for no reason at all other than to continue the tradition. “Cue the mushroom!” became the popular command backstage, where no one wanted to be responsible for forgetting to include it in the night’s performance. From Peter Pan to Winnie the Pooh to Big River, I don’t think that little fungi ever missed an entrance.

In a story that is not quite mine to tell, my boss decided to leave that theatre program and begin a new community theatre of her own that would be dedicated solely to children’s plays. After ten years of working for the same company, she had to leave behind all of the costumes, scenery and props that the program had accrued throughout its years under her direction. She said goodbye to her beloved toadstool, and, with me again at her side, we started the children’s theatre that now keeps us (and countless others) busy morning, noon, and night.

During one of our first productions as a new company, we asked to borrow the original mushroom, but were told that it had been thrown away in a recent purging of the theatre’s storage unit. After a suitable period of mourning, I asked a crew member to make me a similar mushroom, but it just wasn’t the same. The mushroom of legend, it seemed, it had taken its last bow.

I would now like you to fast forward with me through eight years of wild, zany, children’s theatre shenanigans, and through countless enchanted forest scenes featuring logs, tree stumps, and giant flowers, but no mushrooms. It is a Monday afternoon, and I am teaching a tap class in our dance studio while my boss is running down the hallway, panting “my mushroom is back, my mushroom is back!” and grinning from ear to ear.

I followed her down the hall and into our lobby, to see the mushroom sitting there in all its glory! The cushion is now tan with multiple colors of stripes and spots, but if I squint I swear I can still see the original purple polka dots peering through the 19 years of paint!

It turns out that, eight years ago, a young couple expecting their first child bought this strangely wonderful, oversized mushroom ottoman from a thrift store. They kept it in their little girl’s fairy-themed nursery until this month when, in a fit of redecorating, they decided to throw it out. But on their way to the dump, the mother asked herself a question: “Couldn’t that children’s theatre down the street use an adorable fairy toadstool in a play?”

And that question, while it didn’t change any lives, certainly changed an ordinary afternoon at work into an extraordinary trip down memory lane.

The Mushroom of Legend

The Mushroom of Legend

 

Life in a Box November 19, 2008

Filed under: My Job is Weirder Than Your Job — jenntertainment @ 9:00 am
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     Every once in a while, someone can say one sentence that will just stop your world in it’s tracks. A simple question that shakes you to the core and makes your eyeballs jiggle back and forth. Okay, not really.
     Around Halloween, an audience member approached me and asked about a wig that we were using in the show. She commented that she ‘simply adored’ the wig and would love to find one for her Halloween costume. Then she said it.
    ‘Where do you think I can find one? That is, one that I can get without buying the whole show kit?’
    Show kit? What’s that? I had to ask…
   ‘You know, when you order the show and they send you the scripts, music, costumes, set pieces, wigs and everything. Where can I get just the wig without getting the whole kit?’
     She meant well enough. She had no idea that she had just belittled my entire profession into the contents of a clown-prototype cardboard box. I explained calmly that there was no such ‘kit.’ We measure the children and sew the costumes by hand. We design the sets and draw up plans to build, paint, wallpaper and dress them from scratch. We search the internet and local antique shops to find the perfect vintage telephone or we create new props out of sculpt-or-coat. We buy or rent lighting fixtures and spend hours focusing and programming the light cues for each production and we book technicians months in advance to provide sound equipment and reinforcement for every performance. We create the programs and tickets using theatre software, we advertise using print, television and radio media. We audition, cast, read through, rehearse, tech, perform and strike each and every show based on our creative visions, hard work & love of live theatre. In short, there is no kit, although sometimes I wish there was.
     Wouldn’t that be lovely? You open Pandora’s box and out flow costumes that fit perfectly, scenery that is scaled just right for our stage, props, lights, microphones, programs, concessions, posters, makeup, and of course, wigs just right for your friend’s Halloween costume. And what if it went beyond that? LIFE KIT: Buy One Today! Receive a Spouse, Two Children, House, Manicured Lawn, Sport Utility Vehicle, Savings Account, Lifetime Supply of Groceries and Shoes for all Occasions in One Convenient Package! Act now and receive a Puppy with a White Picket Fence at NO EXTRA CHARGE! Happiness Not Included. What a deal!
     Just yesterday, I began a new musical theatre class series. As soon as I walked upstairs, one of my students looked at the box in my arms and said ‘COOL! A SHOW KIT! What’s in it?!’ I hadn’t looked at the box, but it did indeed say R&H Oklahoma! Show Kit on all four sides, which is pretty funny because all that came in it were 20 scripts (not the 34 I needed), a vocal score and a rehearsal CD. I showed him the contents of the box and remarked to him that while I, too, fantasize of Musicals-In-Boxes, they do not yet exist. The Show Kit name was just a ploy to lure innocent middle schoolers into thinking that this is easy.
     Without a moment’s hesitation, this kid threw his arms wide, grinned from ear to ear and proclaimed for all the world to hear ‘That’s because YOU’RE the Show Kit, Ms. Jenn!’
     How true, yes, how true, said the Sour Kangaroo… 🙂

Discussion Question: If your job came in a kit, what would be in it?

 

Golden Intentions October 14, 2008

     As a non-profit organization, my workplace depends largely on volunteer efforts and monetary contributions to survive. Our volunteers are the lifesource of the company, providing us with everything from office management to office supplies and without them we could not exist, at least not in the same capacity that we do now. They have built our stage, designed our sets, sewed our costumes, hung our lights and funded every production. For me, one of the most significant volunteer contributions has been the construction and installation of our dance floor, a beautiful sprung floor laid with an expensive marley and lined with mirrors. It is where I spend most of my time and I love every inch of it, thanks to them. Volunteers have shaped and molded us into being and as long as they continue to support us, we will continue to flourish.
     That being said, there are some volunteers that are less help and more hassle, usually in regards to donated goods. I would say that about one third of the items given to us are true gold that you will see reused on stage, but the rest are just well-intentioned tripe. There was the volunteer that donated all of their used furniture to the theatre in hopes that we could use it, not taking into account that they were only giving it away because it was broken, water damaged and dog-bitten. That old adage one man’s trash is another man’s treasure rarely proves to be true; mostly, its just trash.
     Also there was a volunteer that hooked us up with the closeout items from a local convenience store, the intent being that we would receive oodles of free makeup, hair supplies, snack items, canned beverages, etc. Of course, the reason that these things were being pulled from shelves were that they had long passed their expiration date and were no longer safe for human consumption. Regardless of their toxicity, the items kept coming in every two weeks. I will never forget that one fateful day when the children attacked a cart full of Hostess snacks without asking permission. The details are too gruesome to print.
     One volunteer of years past has become legend. His name was Mr. Higher and he offered to paint the ceiling of our front lobby, but tried to do it during a performance for toddlers. Even after they climbed the scaffolding and finger painted on the concession stand, this man did not comprehend why this was a bad idea. Mr. Higher also brought his child to a performance for her birthday and then proceeded to tail-gate in the parking lot, serving hot dogs, hamburgers, cake and ice cream to little children out of the back of his truck in the middle of a busy intersection. So it should have been no surprise to me that his attempts to repaint our back lobby would be, well, disastrous.
     His mission was to paint six golden-yellow walls the same color, concealing patches from recent air conditioning work. The color of this lobby has been debated by many. Some claim that it is a Morrocan gold, some say dark yellow, some even liken it to a Kentucky Fried Chicken golden brown. My attempts at calling it the Grey Poupon lobby have been largely unsuccessful, mostly because people grew tired of me pardoning myself to ask if they had any. I remember taking the paint swatch to the hardware store and having the associate raise her eyebrows and ask me ‘you want ten gallons of this?‘ She took extra precautions to make sure that no one else picked up this color by mistake and boldly labeled the buckets GOLD PAINT FOR THEATRE. Regardless of its true color, it was pretty when it was new, but desperately needed a touch-up. 
     Now, a normal person would have bought some drop cloths and tape, masked the areas that should not be painted, rolled the walls and then untaped his masterpiece. We were not fortunate enough to have a normal person.
     I received a call early one morning to go down to the theatre and let Mr. Higher into the building. When I arrived, someone else had already unlocked the door, but he had not called to tell me that I was no longer needed. I returned to work later that afternoon to find all of the baseboards missing, but everything else in much the same condition as it had been that morning. Four days passed and no work had been done, save the missing baseboards and two five-gallon buckets of paint that sat inconveniently in the middle of the hallway. I began to wonder if I had dreamed my morning encounter, and if the baseboards had recently gone on some sort of strike due to their shabby surroundings, or perhaps because of the imposing presence of 10 gallons of paint.
     On the fifth day, I walked in to discover that my world had been liberally smeared with dijon mustard. The carpet was yellow. The ceiling was yellow. The tile was yellow. The stairs and doors were yellow. Even the paint buckets were yellow. Worse, the dance floor was yellow. My baby, that beautiful, expensive, dance floor was yellow. I sounded like my character in Go, Dog, Go as I marched around the building, pointing out everything that was now, in my opinion, jaundiced.
     ‘Hey, I got a little paint on your floor’ Mr. Higher said. I just couldn’t help myself.
     ‘Really? Thanks for pointing that out, because if you hadn’t mentioned it I might not have noticed! What a keen observation to bring to my attention. I probably never would have realized that the floor was yellow if it wasn’t for your sharp eye…’ I kept on and on, talking nervously in a low voice, trying not to lose my temper. He never even flinched or even regarded my sarcasm, but he did try to convince me that it could be cleaned with some Goo Gone. I calmly explained that nothing else would touch that floor until I talked with the manufacturer and that this matter was no longer his concern. Given the circumstances, I think that I behaved admirably, but my husband says that I shouldn’t laud myself for acting like a ‘normal’ person. He obviously had good intentions and you can’t be angry at that.
     When I related the first part of this tale to my mom, her instant reply was that ‘good intentions pave the road to hell.’ Though I’d heard this idiom many times, I had never really thought about its meaning. I Googled it and learned that it was derived from the letters of St. Bernard, the man who inspired the name of St. Bernard’s Pass, a path through the Swiss Alps that was so treacherous it required the local monastary to raise a team of rescue dogs by the same name. Though popular in media, the monastary insists that they never equipped their dogs with miniature casks of brandy, as the alcohol would merely act as a muscle relaxer to those already suffering from hypothermia. 
     Regardless of the St. Bernard’s reputation as the Swiss Alps’ most reliable bartender, the actual French-to-English translation of the St. Bernard (the person’s) quote omits the first three words, stating that hell itself has good intentions and desires. Nobody seems to know when the extra words were added, but I think they change the intent of the phrase quite a bit. I guess the true meaning of this quote has something to do with the fact that merely intending to do good, without actually doing it, is of no value. A good lesson, for those of us with Dudley Do-Right attitudes. Like this guy. 
     Mr. Higher promised us that his mess would be cleaned up in time for the weekend and left in a puff of yellow. I thought that perhaps he would return with a new game plan, like not using an industrial paint sprayer indoors with the air conditioner running when a simple roller and paint tray would suffice. Kind of like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, if you ask me. Throwing ration and reason to the wind, he continued on with his paint sprayer, creating clouds of golden dust in the rear of the building and causing approximately 200 children in the course of one day to ask me ‘what’s that funny smell?’ Job finally completed, he packed up his toys and went home.
     The only word to describe his work is ‘astonishing.’ Now that all of the dropcloths had been removed, there were stripes of yellow paint creating roadmaps on the carpet. We were now the proud owners of yellow ceiling tiles, yellow sprinklers and a yellow water fountain. The paint that had, by some miracle, managed to adhere to the walls was now slowly dripping down from the ceiling, creating a haunted-house effect as it slid towards the floor. Since the melted wax look is only considered chic when derived from candles stuck in chianti bottles atop the red-and-white checkered tablecloths of Italian restaurants, we called in the reinforcements.
     With only 48 hours until an audience arrived, our tried and true volunteers all rose to the occasion. They brought belt sanders, mineral spirits, paint brushes, drop cloths and most importantly, those little airplane-sized bottles of wine to help get us through the crisis. Much like the St. Bernard’s and their mythical brandy, they rescued us from an avalanche of latex gold dust, which I can only assume is the same color used to paint the stripes on the road to hell. They phoned in favors with independant contractors and an industrial cleaner, who took one look at our dappled carpet and proudly stated ‘yup, we’ll probly jes’ use the same orange-smellin’ stuff we use at the Chuck-E-Cheese.’  
     All of their magic spells took hold just in time for our weekend of performances and, thanks to those amazing volunteers, the place looked great. They even ordered the appropriate cleanser for the dance floor and cleaned all 48 feet of mirrors in the studio. As I walked down the hall, surveying their excellence, I noticed that the two original five-gallon buckets of golden paint were still sitting in the walkway.  Carrying them to the paint storage room (affectionately referred to by our students as ‘the scary room’), I noticed the labels stuck on the lid, and immediately understood the reason that they were still so prominently displayed in the hallway. They read, simply:

                              GOLD PAINT FOR HIGHER

     Who could ask for anything more?