Monday, November 23, 2009

The Post-Mortem

Who knew there was a floor under all that sparkly stuff?

Don't mind me--I'm just digging out after FINALLY finishing with the roadshow. The costumes are now packed away, props have been dismantled (except for the glittery mop, because you never know when that might come in handy), and my makeup brushes have been washed and are drying on my kitchen counter. Whew.

Alas, I must reveal that we didn't win. Agony! I know, when I really stop and analyze it without the influence of chocolate--which seems to make me belligerent for some reason--that the better roadshow won: they practiced more than we did (twice every Saturday, instead of only once each weekend), had better participation, and when I saw their director at the first meeting I knew my ward was sunk. But my heart is stronger-willed than my brain, and a faint flicker of hope still existed through these past difficult weeks.

I wanted to win. Not because I want to be considered the Grand Pooh-Bah of Roadshows (although that would look nice engraved on a plaque in the ward cabinet), but because I wanted to right a wrong perpetrated many years ago.

You see, I was a member of the Great Roadshow Rebellion of '85. I rose up--along with several other members of the cast, lest you think I was some sort of rabble-rouser. I was actually more of a really stupid follower--and struck (like we were some sort of union: the International Disciples-Indignant of Overworked Teenagers--go ahead and acronym-ize that one) for some meaningless and ultimately forgotten "right", demanding that our director give in to our demands or no roadshow would be performed that year. In retrospect, we were all a bunch of two-bit doofusses, loaded with acne and puffed up with an unbelievable combination of self-importance and self-loathing. Making matters worse, our esteemed (now and for many years previous!) director was my grandmother.

That's right, I rebelled against the gentle stage direction of my adored grandmother. It is not something I like to recall. (But my mom remembers and refers to it whenever I get snippy with her. Mothers are a lot more like elephants than we like to admit.)

So you can see why I was willing to sacrifice everything--EVERYTHING!!!!--to bring home the Grand Prize this year. I wanted to do it in honor of my grandmother, to make up for hormone-induced imbecility, to prove that I had actually learned something in the intervening years. (How to tell stage left from stage right, and the importance of sparkly ribbon come to mind.)

Alas, it was not to be. We were outclassed by a lethal combination of (really fabulous!) poster-board shining armor and 90% participation. In the end we won only for best director (irony, folks!) and best script.

We even lost out on the award for best costumes. Oh, my aching ego.

So, in the end, I could have saved myself a whole lot of exhaustion and frustration if I had just tossed everyone t-shirts for costumes and forgone the worry over sets. All I really needed to do was yell, "LOUDER!" at every possible rehearsal interval, and the results would have been the same.

Karma, friends, karma. It'll bite you in the end.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(Blogger enters, stage right)

I would like to make a sincere apology for the nation-wide glitter shortage. It seems I got a little carried away with what my mom calls "gussy-ing up" the costumes for the roadshow. But on the up side I now have a glitter-spangled white-powdered wig made from the panty part of a pair of pre-worn black tights and half a yard of polyester batting to add to the costume collection. (Just don't tell the actor who has to wear it what it's made of. Teen-age boys are so sensitive to silly things like that.)

Apparently that college degree in costume design has started to pay for itself. Or it would if I were being payed by the hour at a rate commensurate with my abilities (tights panties and batting--c'mon, does anyone want to try to top that?) and my adaptability. (I made rats' tails out of wire hangers and duct tape; the girl rat's tail has a perky bow. Did I mention that our budget was only $100? The instructions said to use our resources. Done.)

Instead, I'm being paid in celestial savings bonds and promises at another crack at the trophy in three years.

With that in mind, may I offer a few of what I consider reasonable suggestions that would go enormous lengths to improve the current Roadshow system?

  • Tag-team directors--so that when the kid who hasn't shown up for seven practices in a row decides he feels like crashing the dress rehearsal, the director currently in charge can take a few minutes to pop a couple Valium.

  • Parisian Street Mime Roadshows. Because then at least there would be an excuse for not speaking on cue.

  • Hook the actors up to radio controllers. "Dang it all--I said LEFT FOOT!!!!!!" (Optional extra: shock-administering dog-training collars.)

  • Strap bull horns on actors at the first practice; arrange for them to be removed at the cast party. Maybe then I won't have to shriek "Speak UP!" every ten seconds.

  • Institute new judging system: points for greatest efforts in the face of enormous odds. Bonus points for best sob story. Judged by fellow directors.

  • Order mandatory costume weigh-in. Costumes not meeting minimum glitter requirements to be awarded negative points for lack of proper roadshow spirit. Extra ten points for every conspicuously-placed sequin on already too-shy deacons.

  • Eliminate song and dance requirements. Instead, ask the audience to hum along as priests and mia maids shuffle awkwardly in what is optimistically called a "Viennese Waltz". (More of a Vienna sausage two-step, but we're hoping for the best.)

  • Secret "director's points" (awarded in calm-inducing chocolate bars, delivered in plain brown wrappers) for every time an actor says the "secret word" on stage. Possible suggestions: shoot, dang, walrus, ummmmmmmmm.

That's all, folks. You've been a great audience. (Blogger bows, waves. Exit stage left.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Now Accepting New Members

I just found out that November is not just for Thanksgiving and torturing my children with pop quizzes on the Pilgrims. (Quick--name the first successful permanent English settlement in the New World and tell me the date of its founding!) It isn't even just a month to really, really wish I had a novel in me somewhere (no fat jokes, I beg of you!) so I could take part in National Novel Writing Month. It's also National Adoption Month.

I found this out only today--apparently, I haven't been keeping as up to date on my quasi-official memorial months as I'd like. But there they were, splashed across the newspaper page: pictures--heart-wrenching ones, no less--of teary-eyed children seeking families. They get me every time. Why do I let myself forget about them in the midst of the lunacy I let creep into our life?

Here's the thing: I've always wanted to adopt. Well, maybe not always--but pretty much since I married el Roberto and figured that with our late start 10 kids would be a physical impossibility. (I've been reading the Old Testament lately, and with all due admiration, there is no WAY I'm pulling a Sarah. I can only imagine the spasms it would give my poor OB, not to mention my tortured kidneys.) Unfortunately, it isn't quite as easy as just saying, "Okay, I'm ready. Hand over those superfluous kiddos!" There are forms to fill out and money to scrape together, and visits and tests and red tape up places where no one (not even my afore-mentioned OB) ought to look--and that's even for the children that supposedly no-one wants! (I do! I do!--I've had enough babies to think starting after potty-training would be a VERY good idea.) It seems like a huge mountain to climb, and every time I steel myself to get us going, I hear a horror story.

They're out there--the sad tales of adoptions gone horribly wrong, that messed lives up, and that made people more miserable than they'd be willing to admit. Those are the ones that scare me.

And yet, the longing is still there. Heaven knows I'm not getting any younger--sassier, but not younger. And richer keeps getting postponed. This may be the best time for us to take the plunge and put ourselves and our family in the hands of the Lord and say, "Okay, help us find a way." Logistically, it makes sense. We have the room. We still have a modicum of sanity. We've always managed to find a way to make things work. Truthfully, all things considered, I'd rather take a shot at finding real joy than in missing it through worry and apprehension.

So here's my declaration (sorry, Roberto, if this comes as a shock. We can talk about it soon, promise!): I am ready to take the plunge. I am opening my arms and declaring open season on my heart. This momma has space for anyone looking for a permanent situation. These arms are waiting to be filled.

Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Testing. Testing. Is this thing working?

My clothesline has sprouted brightly-colored upside-down mushroom shapes. My living room has been overtaken by blue plastic bins. I bought a mop simply to wrap it in red, purple, and yellow ribbons. I have plundered my lace and sparkly-fabric supplies.

The Roadshow is coming. And I'm directing it. Take a moment or two to let that thought sink in. And a couple more for the laughter-induced spasms to subside.

We have only two weeks to go. (Sorry, make that twelve days; I was wighfully thinking when I wrote that sentence.) I may die of stress before the big performance comes.

You see, they called the wrong person to do this job. (The fact is the right person moved out of the ward a few months ago. ARE YOU LISTENING, ALLISON? HAVE YOU NO GUILT FOR WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING ME THROUGH?) I am, reluctantly, I must admit, more of a Roadshow writer than a director. Heck, I'd be happiest as the designer and seamstress. But here I am, the most delegation-challenged person in the world tackling the most difficult non-Nursery-or-Relief-Society-based calling in the world. And so, most of the lunacy devolves to me to see to.

Thus, the upside-down mushroom on the clothesline are chefs' hats being so stiffly starched they can literally stand on their own merits. (The merit is the part below the pouffy bit at the top--just a little costume-related humor for ya, there.) The blue bins that have precluded any possibility of actually sitting in the living room are the temporary repositories of extra-sparkly costumes and shiny ribbon-bedecked props. (Including, and I am absolutely not kidding about this, 15 large shiny, brown Christmas tree ornaments turned upside down and hot-glued into tin foil baking cups to fool a willing and very tolerant audience into thinking they are absolutely decadent chocolates.) The scenery lies face up on my driveway as I type, awaiting my ministrations with glue gun and red sequins. (For the first time in my life, I'm actually praying that it won't rain. Garden be darned--it's all for the Roadshow!) I still have to buy multiple rolls of colored duct tape, as well as super glue, and a large plastic nose attached to a pair of eyeglasses with a faux mustache as the last costume piece.

I have demonstrated the fine art of Roadshow singing--which differs from every other sort of singing by emphasizing quantity over quality. I have repeatedly implored stage-shy teens to yell their lines--CLEARLY!!!!--to the deaf older sisters who will inevitably be sitting in the back rows. I have choreographed dancing rats, taught chocolatiers how to do a pas-de-bourree, and agonized over the entrance timing for the villainess. I have abandoned dignity at the door twice a week for the past three weeks. And I'm still not done.

Can anyone tell me how to make a white powdered wig out of a yard of quilt batting and the top of a nylon stocking? Does anyone have any good ideas for persuading teens that what they most want to do on a Saturday morning is sing and prance? Will somebody tell me the proper procedure for bribing a Roadshow judge?

I have sacrificed my sleep, my fabric, my hips, and my diet to the success of this thing. I've visited Goodwill and DI so often they're both sending me "Thank You" cards on a bi-weekly basis. My prayers are almost exclusively for the youth and "will heaven please bless whoever sets up the microphones to over-compensate for sound absorption in the Stake Center cultural hall? We could really use a little boost."

Call me obsessed. Call me loony. Call me Sister Kydd. But don't call me early on November 22nd. I'll finally be sleeping of the dead-tired just.