Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 137

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 19
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 14

“Producing the musical, “Annie” at Cassy’s school.”

Producing a large-scale musical is a lot of work, but it’s so much easier when there are people willing to volunteer to help. At Laconia Christian School, where Cassy was going for high school, there were several people willing to give up so much to make this play possible for the students. We had a dedicated group of mothers who created all of the costumes including Sally Perrino, Anne Glines, Zee Murphy, Jeanne Sample, Mal Howley, and my sister Sharon. These women worked many hours sewing costumes and scouring local thrift-stores for inexpensive clothes to use. Jane Jepsen volunteered to choreograph the play. My daughter Cassy also helped with the choreography, improving on the choreography she had performed in “Annie” a few years earlier. Cassy’s voice teacher, Carol Gellart, agreed to come and help with some vocal coaching.

Putting on a musical play requires musicians, or at least a solo pianist. Since this was a small school, an orchestra was out of the question. I didn’t even know anyone willing to play the piano! I don’t remember who it was (although I think it was the principal of the school) but someone recommended that I contact Nancy Cross, a member of a local church and a good piano player. After we explained what we’d need from her, Nancy agreed to play the piano for our production. Nancy intended to learn all of the music at home so she’d be ready by the time the rehearsals required the music but she worked full-time and seemed to be overwhelmed. Unfortunately, I think she underestimated the enormous amount of time that this commitment would require!

My daughter, Cassy, was involved in JV Basketball and Varsity Cheerleading at the same time that we were beginning to rehearse the play but she seemed prepared because the “lines” just came right back to her since she had played the title role of “Annie” a few years previous.

Brenda Carney tackled the position of director with energy and eagerly tried to prepare the cast with exercises designed to loosen them up and free them from inhibitions and shyness. It was clear to me, almost from the beginning, that Brenda was far more qualified to direct this play than I was. My job ended up being more of the business end of producing this play. As it turned out, this was a good thing, because I could not have done it all by myself.

Another aspect of putting on a play is the set design and scenery building, and since I barely know which end of a hammer to hold, I was thrilled when two parents stepped forward to volunteer to take over this important part. Belinda Simpson and Lyndel Jackman worked with nineteen students “behind the scenes” to build the sets and gather the necessary props. They also recruited the assistance of Al Jepsen to help out with the sets that needed a talented carpenter’s expertise. Belinda and Lyndel convinced several local businesses to donate the materials that they needed for the sets so it wouldn’t deplete our meager budget.

While the play rehearsals were in full swing, a school board member who was coming to the end of his multi-year term approached me to see if I’d be interested in taking his seat on the board. I thought I might have some skills that I could offer in this capacity so I applied for the position. The school board members reviewed my completed application, interviewed me and, with the condition that I become involved in a local church, allowed me to be a board member.

The board was made up of several people I knew, including my sister Sharon, my friend Barbara Foote, Tyler Simpson and Karen Fogg. The chairman of the school board was Jim Morel, the pastor of the Laconia Christian Fellowship, the church that owned the property the school buildings occupied. Also present at the school board meetings were Roger Allen, a volunteer in charge of finances, and David Borchers, the school principal, but these men did not have “voting” privileges. We may not all have been the most “qualified” people but we certainly all took this responsibility very seriously. This school was very important to all of us.

To satisfy my requirement to be involved in a local church, my family began to attend the services of Laconia Christian Fellowship that were held in the school gymnasium. We had “sampled” several other local churches in the area and hadn’t found “just the right place” but since my sister Sharon and her family, and several of our newly made friends attended Laconia Christian Fellowship we decided that this would be our “home church.” Although it wasn’t exactly the kind of church I was accustomed to, we were all welcomed by many in the congregation.

Next chapter: We decide to make our move to New Hampshire a “permanent” thing.

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