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Student Blog: Frozen Jr: The Return to Live Theatre


I never thought that Frozen Kids Jr would mark my return to live theatre. But that’s exactly where I found myself last Friday.

Student Blog: Frozen Jr: The Return to Live Theatre

I never thought that Frozen Kids Jr would mark my return to live theatre. But that's exactly where I found myself last Friday.

This summer, I'm working at Imagination Stage (a local children's theatre) as a summer camp counselor. I help out in the Musical Production Camp, groups of determined 6-10 year olds putting on a new musical every two weeks. Last week featured the ever popular Frozen and twenty (very excited) theatre kids.

Over the course of the mini session, the kids worked with us counselors, directors and teachers to craft the first show of summer. The entire process was remarkably quick, with casting, rehearsals and full staging happening in less than ten days. We also rehearsed with masks and without physical contact...It was chaotic in the best way possible.

The kids arrived at camp on Friday literally vibrating with excitement and nerves. Although it was just a showing for the parents, I felt that electric "pre show energy" in the air. After a year of simply unmuting on Zoom to begin a show, the jitters before performing live felt like breaths of fresh air. The kids' excitement built as they ran last minute rehearsals, got into costume, and headed into the wings as the parents filed in.

We may as well have been preparing for Broadway the way these kids carried on. They waited eagerly in their line, dividing their time between peeking out the curtain to see their parents, giving each other air hugs and pep talks, and asking me how many minutes were left. I have never seen a group of humans SO excited to perform. I remember one girl looking outside the curtain, seeing her mom, and turning to me with wide eyes and hands clasped. "I just can't wait."

As the rational and calm backstage counselor, I was shamelessly fueling the fire and getting the kids increasingly wound up. When they asked me how much time until show, I would look dramatically at my phone before answering seriously "___ minutes left." No matter what the time was, it caused a fresh wave of whisper-screaming and jumping up and down. I don't think any child took more than one full breath before the show started. When our camp director began making opening announcements, they all gasped and began correcting each other's positions in line. Ironically, they gave so many last minute hugs and "break a legs!" that they all missed their first cue.

It was the most special moment of my summer so far. I still haven't performed in my first live show, but I got to absorb the emotions of these kids performing in theirs. I felt their love of being together, their excitement pre-show, and their growing appreciation for the arts. It deeply moved me to get to watch kids forming core memories of loving theatre, reminding me in turn how much I loved it all too.

This past year, it's been remarkably easy to forget the raw emotions behind a performance. I loved my different casts and theatrical experiences over Zoom, but 2020 lost the electricity of acting in person. I have not hugged anyone before a show (which is the best feeling) in years. "Good luck" texts and Zoom chats just aren't the same.

So, yes. I may have teared up a little bit waiting with those crazy kids backstage. But, can you blame me? It was a perfect moment. It reminded me just how magical and important live theatre is and continues to be. For all ages.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Leah Packer