When I was younger, Mary Poppins was my favorite thing in the whole world. My mom has stories about me sitting in front of our TV, transfixed. I watched the movie so much that I broke the VHS tape.
So when I had the opportunity to direct a production of Mary Poppins at Eastport South Manor High School - how could I say no?
It was a combo of two of my loves - Mary Poppins, and a group of students who have always made me a better director and teacher and human.
So I said yes.
And we got to work.
And it was....magical.
We closed yesterday, and the letters of love and words of praise that have been pouring in are overwhelming.
So now it's my turn to say thank you.
To my fellow executive crew, thank you. Theatre productions take a village, and I couldn't have done it without you all.
Thank you to my cast, the crew, and pit orchestra. You put your hearts and souls into this production, and their hard work has most certainly paid off.
Many people have asked me how we got to where we did.
How did you get them to do this?
The answer is simple - time and hard work.
A show like Mary Poppins doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen rehearsing for a few hours a week, whenever the wind moves us. It was hard work. It was dedication. It was practice. It meant staying at school and rehearsing until nine, ten, sometimes eleven o'clock at night. It meant working Saturdays and Sundays.
And yes, it was all necessary in order to get them to the level to which they rose.
There's no magic behind it - just love.
Love for what we do, love for the stories we tell, love for creating art that helps people check their worries at the door and get lost in the stories of someone else for a few hours.
Eastport South Manor has a theatre program that is unlike any other high school in it's area. For these kids have the ability to take class in theatre and stagecraft. They come into auditions with a base of theatre and music education - and that education is started during their school days.
While the shows were magical, this program means more than a weekend of shows. It's more than telling a beloved story, more than bright lights or fancy tricks.
It's about the community in which they create, it's about the tribe that they form.
It's about the growth that they seen in themselves - and the freedom to grow into ones skin.
Seniors from the cast and crew made me a scrapbook of memories from their time in the theatre department - a gift that they gave to me on their closing show.
They told me of how, because of theatre, they understood themselves better. Because of theatre, they hold their head higher, and feel stronger. Because of theatre, they kept getting out of bed in the morning. Because of theatre, they knew that there was a community of people who wanted the best for them, who loved them.
That's what a theatre education does.
It inspires a love for others, and a strength of self that is unparalleled in any other educational setting.
For it teaches us how to listen to one another, work together, and connect with another human - without a screen fixed to our hand.
I'm so proud of this cast, and I sleep easier knowing that there are young adults out there who will leave this earth better than they found it.
Happy World Theatre Day!