The audience gradually filtered in, Miss. Black and Lucy Brown handing out programs while the remaining cast members gathered, patiently waiting with hearts in mouths behind the stage curtains. The moment was intense, nine hours of hard work, nine hours of learning lines, of singing and dancing, nine hours of rehearsals. Just nine hours; that’s all we had. Fifteen students signed up to be a part of William Gray & the Family Next Door.
Once the audience had settled and all cast members were in place, the show began. I stepped out from behind a red curtain, well over one hundred people looking toward me. I introduced the show, told them just how proud I am of these wonderful youngsters who gave so much of themselves in order for the show to be a success. And it was a success, a beautiful, wonderful, amazing success.
Had we had another nine hours, we surely would have developed the show even more, although considering the circumstances, we did far more than I had expected. I left the stage and the storyteller entered and began to read from her manuscript. The first song (Sleepy Time) was played to a red background. We didn’t have time to develop that scene. However, once the song was done; the red curtain fell back, revealing a black curtain, the storyteller continuing to speak.
And then it happened, the black curtain fell away, William Gray fast asleep, waiting for his father, Mr. Gray to wake him up.
Everything went so smoothly, each student reading lines with such ease. Songs were played, dances were danced, scenes were executed with such effortlessness; one might have thought these children had been training for months. Mrs. Gray danced so well while cleaning the house and watering the plants and Miss. Black read her lines so cleverly in the classroom. Colin the crow strutted his stuff, flapped his wings and squawked as crows invariably do. Max the cat chased mice through the church gardens, out into the audience and back again. Mrs. Brown and Kevin, Justin, Mary, Lisa, Mathew, Martin…everybody did such an astounding job.
We went back to basics, didn’t use microphones and fancy lighting.
Several audience members recorded the show and I am in possession of a couple of recordings. Rosie has tried to put them up on YouTube, although unfortunately the show is too long to be put out in one clip. However, it has now been cut down and is here for your viewing pleasure. Below is the YouTube link to part 1 and part 2. The final video of the play will be posted on Monday.
When all is said and done, I can safely say that the whole ‘William Gray & the Family Next Door’ experience here in America has been absolutely wonderful. These children will live in my heart forever. I was close to tears by the end of the show, the sheer wonder of these young, American lives. With children like this, the future of this great nation looks brighter than ever.