Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 150

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 20
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 15
Brenda Carney: the director


Late 1999 through early 2000 was a fun, but busy time for us. Adam was living back at home with us because he had decided not to go back to The Boston Conservatory for his second year of college. He was now working full-time to try to get out of debt. Cassy was in her sophomore year of high school at Laconia Christian School and she was involved in several sports and the drama program. Mal and I were also involved there. We had committed to organize fundraising activities to raise money for Cassy and her classmates senior class trip cruise.

In the past, a parent or sport coach would occasionally have some snacks available for sale during a sporting event but it was not done with any consistency. Most of the time there was no food sold there. Mal and I knew that if we committed to making full meals and snacks available at every game, we could build up a steady business. We asked the class members to bring crock-pots of food and we’d always provide hot dogs and beverages. We would usually end up selling out of everything by the end of the sporting event. Suddenly, after a few months of this, other classes and parents decided that they wanted to be able to sell food as a fundraising effort for their classes. We were told that we needed to allow the other interested groups to have equal time and ended up only being allowed to run the snack bar one week each month.

After our successful performances of “Annie” the previous year, the school had asked if we could possibly do two plays for this year. Brenda, our director from last year was interested in directing another play but really couldn’t commit to do two plays. I volunteered to direct a play with just the middle school students while Brenda would do “Oklahoma” with the high school students. Brenda was lucky to have very enthusiastic and talented volunteers including Jane Jepsen and Margaret and Barry Armitage to help with choreography and music. The problem was that once these people had committed to work on the high school play it left our middle school play of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” with no musical accompanist or choreographer. I certainly had no talent in these areas!

I approached Stephanie Goddard to see if she’d be willing to play the music for us. Stephanie played piano at her church where her husband was a pastor and Mal and I had gone there a few times so I knew she was very talented. She was reluctant to commit to such a large responsibility but she told me that she’d review the sheet music to see if she thought she could learn all it. I was confident that she could but Stephanie wasn’t so sure.

Auditions were held for the middle school play and I was surprised to have over thirty kids try out. The play consisted of only six characters but my desire for this production was to include everyone. To accomplish this, a large chorus was added to involve more of the students and two of the major characters, Lucy and Snoopy, were “double-cast” since there were four girls with outstanding talents. Each of these girls would play their part for one of the two performances.

While Stephanie was considering if she felt comfortable playing the music for our play, we began rehearsals even though we were many months away from our performance dates. I wanted this to be fun for the students so we planned a leisurely rehearsal schedule of only twice each week. For our practices, I had rented a prerecorded musical score from the company that rented the scripts. For some reason, the company didn’t allow this soundtrack to be used for the actual performances but it gave us plenty to work with. After a few weeks, the students asked if we could rehearse more often because they were having fun! I was pleased to see the dedication in these young actors.

At the same time that we were working on this play my daughter was invited to go to Holland on her winter vacation to visit Anika, a girl who had attended Laconia Christian School the previous year. Kendra and Lindsay, two senior girls, were invited also. Kendra was on the cheerleading squad with Cassy so we knew her quite well but we didn’t know Lindsay much. Both of these girls were over eighteen years old and we thought that Cassy was still a little bit too young to go without us. Even though the girls would be staying at Anika’s parents’ home, we were uncomfortable with this idea. We suggested that we would be willing to travel there with the girls and they could stay at Anika’s while we stayed nearby at a hotel. We just wanted to be nearby in case of an emergency. Kendra wanted no part of this arrangement. She was afraid that we would somehow ruin her fun over there but, after we explained that we would not allow Cassy to go without us, Kendra changed her mind. We were now “allowed” to go with them.

Adam finally couldn’t stand his clerk job at Providian anymore so he quit and began working the night shift at The J. Jill Company packing catalog clothing orders. He didn’t like this job either but he enjoyed working with his cousin, Jesse. This didn’t last too long though.

Next chapter: Our trip to Holland and Adam’s new job.

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