I used to think I was not really a musical kind of guy.  Really.  Yet there was that one time…

At the time there was a faculty member I heard through the grapevine – as a then student at Butler County Community College  – heard an older faculty member wanted to see the plays at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre but she was older and needed a driver – and in return would be a free ticket to the theatre and dinner to follow – I  took it.  I had no idea how much I would love the conversation and that experience. It stuck with me.  The conversations and contemplation we had after – I never realized and never realized how much I would miss them and having that experience…

Stratford Canada.  Shakespeare Festival.  Two years in a row and moving from theatre to theatre, seeing every type of technique and play and – meeting with the playwrights in the evening at a local hangout for actors and all crew called Down the Street– seeing Timothy Findley and knowing who he was thanks to then Carrie Ackinclose- (Gerber) The amazing talks Dr. Permenter would engage us in- wow.  Those moments from Butler County Community College really rooted in me and led me to truly appreciating this moment…

Traveling to New York and creating some crazy interview and oral history projects as one day trips and the people we were able to interview about the tragic 9-1-1 event, including the first photographer on the ground to see the fatal moments we saw on television, touring the first responding firehouse and seeing the items they recovered…a and the musicals we caught while there- it still managed to carry through to me all these years…

I had no IDEA the moments I would share on and behind the stage meeting the cast and crew of the musicals we witnessed as a member of the family I found myself in from Mexico and ASF – It was almost as if the single experience I had back in Butler County Community College had little steps that built and built to enjoy the family of students I was witnessing Broadway shows like WarHorse, Mama Mia, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago AND the amazing productions at ASF in Mexico City (Mes Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, and countless COUNTLESS others!  but productions that took your heart and breath away because the students on stage you were watching grow into their role and grow right in front of you!-  I watched every night and it was not enough- every night was something that caught my eye and stole my heart just as the students and faculty that did the same.

Seeing the productions that I came across at Woodbridge for the first time – I have to admit I was 1000% homesick for Mexico in moving away so abruptly and yet, the close knit, expertly directed and personal nature and talent of every single production?  I was sucked in immediately.  I was more than at home and it felt just right yet again.  When you see and feel someone’s heart in everything the love- you find a production that goes beyond the stage every time. (My cute dog Amaya thought so too.)

So as I sat down to watch Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel– Live from Lincoln Center, everything came back to me although at first I thought, Hmm, this is kind of a girls’ broadway show, huh? Sorry, but within the first thirty minutes, the local color of being near the shore and the life of fishermen and – The cast alongside the New York Philharmonic- magical.  The cast  fit the roles alongside the music perfectly,

Kelli O’Hara as Julie Jordan, Nathan Gunn ad Billy Bigelow, Stephanie Blythe as Nettie Fowler, and John Cullum as The Starkeeper/Dr. Selden –

okay –

it was AMAZING! and then the bigger picture dawned on me, – how ironic that all of life – at least mine, has been a carousel.  That first moment attending the Pittsburgh Theatre- you NEVER know what experiences that seem so random at one moment, and years later, traces are realized and maybe they are there all along.  I remembered a magic moment where we watched West Side Story, directed by Alonda de la Parra at el Auditorio Nacional  and how she broke into music and dance afterwards – memories that seemed like dreams.

In such an pandemic and unexpected time, we have the ability to reassure a class of 2020 that despite how everything has been turned topsy turvy, there is one thing that no one can take away from anyone despite anything – the ability to slow down (sometimes we do not have a choice!) and take in EVERT SINGLE DETAIL – life despite the ups and downs will still go around and around, and the things we can do to support, take, and relish the moments on each turn, they do end up lasting a lifetime.



About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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