Can you spell fall musical? P-U-T-N-A-M C-O-U-N-T-Y

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Can you spell fall musical? P-U-T-N-A-M C-O-U-N-T-Y

The Southerner

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When asked whether or not I was going to the fall musical, my response was “what’s the name of it again?” My view of the theatre department was pretty much set until I became a part of it just over two weeks ago. A small part, yet still a significant one.

It was just like any other day in my 4A theatre tech class. Art teacher John Brandhorst had given us a list of tasks that needed to be completed and once again, I found myself walking around the room picking up trash, not really knowing what to do with myself. So when drama teacher Jake Dreiling came in asking for a volunteer to help with triple threat, I was all ears.

I slyly walked by the two teachers as they were contemplating who could be a volunteer. My plan to be selected was successful. It was then, however, that I realized I might not have been qualified. A knot suddenly formed in my stomach. I asked if I should be nervous, and Dreiling answered “absolutely not.” Brandhorst proceeded to say as long as I knew how to spell syzygy, I would be fine. I didn’t know how to spell syzygy; the knot in my stomach tightened.

I timidly followed Dreiling onto the stage next to a couple of students sitting at a prop desk. They asked for my name, Dreiling told me what to say when I was called up to the mic, and I was then instructed to sit in the audience and wait for further instructions. I looked out into the audience and saw one of my friends had an empty seat next to her, so I gladly took it not knowing what would happen next.

She informed me that during this class period, the understudies were conducting a run-through of the musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I acted as if I knew what she was talking about, but I truly did not. Maybe I had seen a flyer for the musical but I could not recall. Everyone soon took their places, and the musical began. About 10 or so minutes into the show, they called out my name. My friend instructed me to go onto the stage. All I had to do, along with the other three volunteers, was follow the instructions of the characters in the play.

All of us slowly walked onto the stage and took our places at the chairs of the other “contestants.” When I first sat down, all I could do was smile. The atmosphere of the whole thing made me laugh. I laughed not only because of the butterflies in my stomach from being on stage, but also because all of the actors seemed incredibly confident in what they were doing. This wasn’t just a class in which you tried to meet the minimum requirements to pass and move on. This class was comprised of people that had a passion for what they were doing, and this passion showed.

Every other volunteer and participant had been called up to the microphone to spell a word, and now, it was my turn. My name was announced, and I nervously walked up to the mic, squeezing my hands together in anticipation. They asked me to spell the word “fandango.” I followed my instructions.

“May I have the definition?”

“Fandango, a lively Spanish dance performed by a man and a woman.”

“Can you use it in a sentence?”

“Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango?”

I laughed and attempted to spell the word. F-a-n-d-a-n-g-o. Whether or not I spelled the word correctly, I will never know. Regardless, they told me I was out, and I suddenly found myself not knowing what to do. I hadn’t planned for this moment. I was the first person to be eliminated and had no prior knowledge of what to do. For what seemed like eternity I blindly stood on stage like a deer in the headlights. Eventually, I proceeded back toward my chair along with the other contestants on stage.

Thinking back on it now, I cannot figure out why I thought going back to my seat after I had gotten kicked out was the correct decision, but it was not. Any normal contestant would have left the stage, not returned to it.

As I approached the chair, the actors began to sing me a goodbye song. It was the song that gave me the hint I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I slowly turned around and went to sit in the first row of auditorium seats. As I walked away, a chorus of high schoolers serenaded me with this goodbye song.

Awkward is the closest word I can use to describe how I felt. Nonetheless, I was thoroughly intrigued. At first I stayed because I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to be put to use again. Before I knew it, it was 2:45 p.m., and I still didn’t want to go back to class (sorry Mr. Brandhorst). The last 30 minutes were spent laughing and chuckling along with the rest of the students in the audience. Here I was, watching the run-through of a show that I had never intended to see in the first place, and I didn’t want to leave.

Gathering from my fellow Grady students, our perception of the theatre department is not necessarily negative, just indifferent. While we may hear announcements about upcoming plays or musicals, we have no incentive to go unless we have a friend or some connection to the play. I mean, it’s a high school cast. How good can it really be?

Those were my thoughts four weeks ago. And although it took direct involvement for me to see the true art and commitment of these students, it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone else. The theatre department has set the stage for all of us to see terrific performances filled with drama, comedy and a touch of the unexpected. All we have to do is find a seat in the audience.

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