Thursday, January 05, 2017

Lights, Camera, Corky...and an Ode to Karl

Last night was the youth choir play at our parish. I've written loads about our youth choir plays; it has such a fun and varied history. It was born on Christmas Eve, 2007, when our liturgy director approached me after Mass and said, "Hey, Karen, when I worked at another church, we did this little play called The Three Trees. I was thinking it would be fun to do it here, with our youth choir."

I said, "Yeah, you have fun with that, Karl. That's a great idea."

Karl said, "I was wondering if you'd like to help direct it."

I said, "Yeah, you have fun with that, Karl."

But I relented and gave it a try, because I really do have an inner Corky St. Clair. (I was not a theater major for nothing, people.) Because I had daughters in the youth choir, I helped Karl with The Three Trees, then the next year we did a play called A Technicolor Promise. (That was the year that Anne-with-an-e's Confirmation led me to buy Zoo Pal paper plates as part of the costumes. Yeah. Go read that link.)

Then I took a year off (I think I was writing a book? Or I was just tired and grumpy?) and then directed another play called Joseph: From the Pit to the Palace. I went full-on Corky with that one. I remember Karl having to pull me back from the edge when I was trying to choreograph a group of 30 kids, ages 8-13, as if they were in Hamilton. "This is getting a little too complicated," Karl gently told me as I wiped my fevered brow and said, "No, it could work. It could work!" I'm certain I then laughed maniacally and I'm equally certain that Karl considered having me hospitalized. Instead, I think he sent me home, I had a glass of wine, showed Atticus my sketches for the dream choreography, and then he wiped my fevered brow and put me to bed.

We simplified the choreography, though I might have been shaky as I made concessions.

The next year, with Karl's enthusiastic encouragement, Anne-with-an-e (who was a senior in high school) and Betsy (who was a sophomore), and two of their friends took a stab at writing a play themselves. They were also eager to try the job of directing (and Karl never once had to consider having them committed. Their inner Corkies were a bit more controlled.) The play was a big hit that year, and I was over-the-moon-proud of my girls. And Betsy was hooked on the directing job. (Directing the musical was one of the things that helped her realize she wanted to be a teacher.) She continued to work with the kids until this year (through her first two years of college.) This was the first year for her to sit in the audience for a choir play, and she didn't like it one bit. It killed her that she was too busy this year to direct. (Maybe next year?)

And the last few years have also been Ramona's time to rise through the ranks. She's had speaking roles, singing duos/trios, adores performing, and I was over-the-moon-proud of her last night as I watched her perform for the last time in this annual musical. She's 9th grade-ish this year, and will age out of the choir as a singer/performer,  but she has her eye on some writing and directing in the future. She may have to elbow her way in, as the young man who wrote the musical the last two years has done a terrific job -- he may not be ready to pass the baton. Karl's wife, Danae, directed this year, and she did an incredible job. But all work out and be well. The Edmisten stake in this choir* has been claimed, and we may never fully let go.

Thank you, Karl, for the vision that was born in 2007, and for asking a lazy, former theater major to lend a hand. I told you to have fun with that, and not only did you have fun with it, you gave my family the gift of a lifetime of treasured memories.

*Adding this footnote after Danae's comment: I forgot to mention that even Atticus had a role one year, as the off-stage voice of God. So fun.

Photo credit:


Danae said...

The Edmisten family has played a vital role in the development of the "Sacred Heart Youth Choir Musical". Even Atticus had a part in a musical! I have to put it in quotes, because it has become a "thing" with a life of itself beyond Karl. I have to laugh at your memories of directing though, because as Karl tells it, HE was the one trying to make it too complicated, and YOU were the one talking him down from the ledge! HA! I suspect it was a little of both! ;)

Karen Edmisten said...

Ha! I love it, Danae! Karl and I were a good team, I think -- keeping each other sane and balancing each other's extremes. :)

Yeah, I should have mentioned in the post that Atticus once played God. :)

YOU are a fantastic director. Last night's musical was such a delight!

mrsdarwin said...

I myself find that I get antsy, watching an children's play that I didn't direct, and yet there is no time to direct everyone else's show. In most aspects of life I have no desire to run anyone else's project, but theater is different...

Karen Edmisten said...

Ha -- yes, theater is different.

Lissa said...

Aw, what a bittersweet event for you guys...sounds like such a rich experience for all of you. I love that Atticus was the voice of God. :) (Reminds me of my high school production of Grease—our director had the brilliant idea of casting the school counselor—rather a dreamboat—as the Teen Angel. All of us in the play kept it top secret until he made his appearance on the angelic stairway, opening night. The audience went wild.)


sarah said...

How fabulous!

Atticus said...

Got cast as God once, and now I can't get another role. Now I know how Bob Denver felt.

Karen Edmisten said...

Lissa, the dreamboat counselor as Teen Angel - so funny and fun! Love that.
Sarah, thanks! It's been a fun ten years of theater for my kiddos.

Atticus, maybe we need to get you a new agent.