It’s show week!
Dodge City High School is presenting its yearly musical theater extravaganza and the two younger Pyle children are rather prominently featured. This means for them a week of excitement, a week of costumes and hair styles, a week of dancing, a week of singing, a week of very little sleep, a week of becoming a bit snappish with the father who asks too many questions about how it is going and a week that will live in their memories for a long time.
It wasn’t intentional that we would become a family of performers, just sort of happened.
I did a couple of plays in high school but that was only because the Inimitable Rob talked me into it. My lovely wife, Claudia, was a singing and dancing Molly Brown, you know, the one who proved to be incredibly buoyant, at her high school but neither of us did any performing again for several years. Our kids, however, have been much more involved in shows in their younger lives as well as high school.
Daughter #1, Emilyjane, was born with a theatrical bend. She would emote at the drop of a hat. She loved to dance even before she could walk (this mostly consisted of rocking back and forth on her bottom in an emphatically rhythmic manner). As she got older she danced as often as she walked. If she needed to go to the refrigerator to get the milk, she danced, if she was going out to the car, she danced, if she was traveling through the aisles of the grocery store, she danced. For some reason whenever her mother or I decided we would dance in the grocery store it was mortifying to her, wicked double standard if you ask me. She would later become a singer as well and burst into song more frequently than a hyperactive canary.
Daughter #2, Alice, didn’t seek the spotlight as often as her sister but she never shied away from it either. There was one time in a performance of the children’s choir at church she was handed a solo the morning of the performance because another child was sick. She kind of muffed the opening of it. The choir stopped for a second, the kind-hearted young boy standing next to her called out to the congregation that she had just got it today, and then she proceeded to nail it.
Only Son, George, takes after his father with very strong hermit tendencies. He will spend hours by himself but he always had a very strong imagination and in his younger days his pretend play was pretty elaborate. He was oddly without stage fright at a very young age. Even as a toddler he was given a costume to resemble the outfit his old man wore as the mascot for the Dodge City Legend Basketball team and was willing to be silly in front of several hundred folks as Mini Marshal Hoops.
I am a pathetically proud papa.
Emilyjane was in middle school and I drove her to a music contest. Anyone who has ever been to a school music contest knows it is two to four hours of driving in order to have six to seven hours of sitting around with a very intense three or four minutes of performance. She sang “Shenandoah” while I sat in the back of the room trying lot to let anyone see that I was crying like a menopausal woman watching “The Notebook”.
Alice was given one of the featured roles in Seussical when the Depot Theater Company did the show a few years back. Since she was not as prone to perform around the house I have to say I was genuinely surprised and blown away when she truly opened up her pipes and sang her big song, luckily it was dinner theater and I had a napkin handy.
George was in a show I directed for the Depot Theater group. We had added a couple of kids for extras. I was surprised when the musical director gave him a couple of short solos in some of the big chorus numbers. The result was ten different performance nights with the director/dad at the back of the house smiling like an idiot.
When Alice takes the stage as Sandy (wearing a wig because her hair is too short to be a fifties teenage heartbreaker) and George stands up there as Kenickie (with his hair slicked back like a BP pelican) I will be very glad the lights are on them and not on me.
Christopher Pyle is glad his children enjoy the arts, but regrets this means none of them can support him in his old age. He can be reached at email@example.com