Playwriting Production

The end of the journey….the beginning of the journey….

Lakewood Ranch High School performed Shout! at the Florida State Thespian Festival this past Wednesday. This is the end of the journey for them, and they ended with a bang. The cast completely rose to the occasion with a spectacular performance after a shaky final dress on Monday night, and a decision to change the end of the show on Tuesday.

 

SIDE NOTE ON.

I love the fearlessness of teens. After hearing a new version of one of the songs on Monday, I realized the new version was the end of the play and the subsequent last scene was unnecessary. It was the kind of realization that only happens when you see the show in action, as opposed to just reading words on a page. I was just going to make this change after the fact (you know, seeing as the cast wasn’t scheduled for any further rehearsals….) but the director thought the students were up to the task. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked, ‘Really sure?’ ‘Absolutely’ she said. Ok……We rehearsed the new end twice and it’s perfect.

SIDE NOTE OFF.

It’s been exactly one year since I asked the director if she’d be interested in workshopping a new musical. I don’t think either she or I knew what we were getting into.

Singing a cappella is no easy feat, and it’s been interesting to see people cringe at the concept. I interviewed the Lakewood Ranch cast and every one of them thought their director was crazy for making them do it. ‘But,’ one student commented, ‘We trust Mrs. Caravan. And we know she has faith in us. So there’s no way we wouldn’t do it.’

And at the end of the process, every one of those students wants to do another a cappella musical!

This venture has been such a wonderful success and this week I’ve been a mess of emotion. This journey has been a long one for me. It was my idea, my concept, and thus my failure if it didn’t work. I could barely watch the big show on Wednesday, I was wound so tight. Some students I recently worked with were sitting nearby. They wanted to come talk to me, but I looked a little bit tense and, ah, A LOT scared. Yep that’s about it exactly. I shook throughout the whole adjudication afterward.

Shout! has been a long time in the works and it just feels unbelievable that this part of the process is coming to fruition. A concept is one thing. An actual product is a completely different matter. Something to hold in my hands. Words in print. Sheet music. Sight. Sound. Everything.

It was interesting to hear the response at our exhibitor table on Friday and Saturday. We were listening very hard to see what the buzz would be. We had a huge Shout! banner, one act versions for sale and CD’s. The Lakewood Ranch students were so excited to see themselves on the video and kept staring at the CD’s.

A lot of students came up to tell us how much they enjoyed it. A retired teacher who I have a lot of respect for complimented the show – the type of person who never gives lip service. That meant a lot to me. The cast kept coming up to me and marveling how other students were accosting them! We had customers buy the script and CD, not because they had seen the show but because they had heard it was good. It was interesting to see which song the students searched for, to make sure was on the CD, one we never would have figured.

It was interesting to see teachers leap forward at the concept, excited at the idea or coil away from the table declaring their students unable to ever learn a cappella.

But you see, I know now (after much sweat and many tears) that this musical is doable. For any group. Is it challenging? Of course. But is it rewarding? Amazingly so. I’ve seen it now first hand. And I can saw with confidence this is a great musical for students.

The buzz is exciting. The interest is good. The journey is just beginning.

The full length version of Shout! is available June 2008.

See here for a whole lot more: theatrefolk.com/shout

About the author

Lindsay Price