Michelle Martin

Spring drama

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Ladies and gentlemen, live theater is back.

I can say that not only because I took my daughters to see the Broadway in Chicago production of “Six,” masks firmly affixed on our faces, about a month ago, but because middle-school and high-school productions are popping up like dandelions in our yard this spring.

That’s what had me sitting on a folding chair in a school auditorium (read: multipurpose room with a stage) for three consecutive days, watching a middle-school version of “We Open Tomorrow Night!”

The play, about a dress rehearsal for a school talent show where many, many things go wrong, is kind of a genius choice, because any miscues or missteps in the play can be played off as part of the dress rehearsal meltdown.

The play has it all: a pushy stage mother/PTA president who wants her daughter to be the star, middle-aged residents who try to masquerade as teenagers so they can perform, a long-suffering stage manager and emcees who are just trying to keep everything moving along.

Teresa is none of these. She’s on the crew, not because she couldn’t get a part (she could, definitely; this is the kind of show where the cast can be expanded to accommodate everyone who wants to act), but because she likes being on the crew.

For reasons that are inexplicable to me, she likes organizing the props and prompting the actors, coming up with costume ideas and painting the sets. It might be that she likes telling people what to do.

The times she is onstage she is either moving props or a backup dancer wearing glow-in-the-dark clothing on a dark stage as part of one of the talent acts.

She doesn’t see that as being any less important, or any less fun, than being one of the leads. To her, the person running the spotlight is just as important as the person standing in it.

That’s one of the lessons that theater teaches, I think. Everyone involved in the play is part of the drama club, and the play doesn’t work if any of them don’t do their jobs. If someone can’t be there, a contingency that everyone has learned to plan for during COVID-19, someone else has to pick up the slack.

Teresa, at least in the context of drama club, has become one of those people who figures out what needs to be done and does it, even if it means juggling two scripts while pushing a prop onto the stage.

This is an appreciation for all the people who function in the background but are the ones who make things go: the parish and school secretaries and administrative assistants, the crossing guards, the sacristans and volunteers who decorate our churches, the custodians and cleaning staff who keep spaces safe for everyone … the list goes on.

This week, try to remember to thank some of them, to remind them that even if they aren’t in the limelight, their efforts are seen and appreciated.



  • family life