(warning – lots of pictures ahead!) It all started with a phone call months ago. Would I be willing to be in charge of the costumes for the middle school High School Musical school play? When the sheet went home to “check-off” what I would be willing to volunteer for – I checked off everything except costumes. Are you sure you don’t want me to do the sets?

But the chance to be part of a play that both of my girls were in – the one year they were in middle school together, how could I not say yes? Although I had absolutely no idea what I had just said yes to – it was a great decision.

At each step of the process – I should have asked for help. But it is really hard to ask for help when you don’t even know what you are doing – when you are just figuring it out one step at a time. So while my girls were learning skills I have never known – like opening the show as one of two girls on the stage doing a cartwheel ( I can’t even image doing this in 6th grade – they amaze me daily).

Or finding at the young age of 13 what true friendship looks and feels like – and how to return it.Or handling the pressure of executing a scene to get the desired laugh.I was learning how to costume 64 kids through 3 to 5 costume changes. I sewed nothing, because sewing is not a skill I possess. But I had an amazing partner in crime by the name of Jackie – who not only saved many a “wardrobe malfunction”, but also had an incredible stash of costumes – including the two “must have” dresses. I look back and say that I “hunted and gathered” costumes for 64 kids. And when I looked at the final scene of Friday night, I actually was not really sure how it all came together – but it did. And frankly, I felt proud of what I had accomplished.When I did the first round of trying on of costumes – with 64 kids – I only had one complaint. That was not what I had expected but from a group of hormonal teens and pre-teens. And our wonderful Sharpay who had so many changes, fixes and people pulling at her – showed nothing but grace and kindness through it all.
And just like the natural order of middle school – the play had divided groups like “brainiacs”..and jocks, and skaters and thespians.And yes, they really did pull of the whip cream in the face scene with Sharpay. Like I said, she is a pro.But off the stage, they were such a cool group together. Getting to know these kids was the greatest gift. The ability to be the “mom” in the background is something I will always treasure. I very quickly began to realize how important this all was becoming to me. It was no longer about the costumes – it was about making sure each kid felt confident, amazing and special when they went on the stage. Whether it was their costume, their make-up, a little extra hair spray or a pin in their hair – I tried to do what I could to make them each feel like the amazing kids that they were. Yup, I am hooked.And I can not forget to mention that these kids really can act and sing and dance. In fact, some of them have been invited to a program this summer on Broadway.I have learned that part of it is casting well for the role – but I am also very aware that it really is about learning and acting the part. I feel like these kids are given an amazing opportunity here even if acting is not their life long goals. They really learned so many life lessons through this whole process – some that were so visible and you saw them transform and some that were not.And how the song so truly fitting ends the play – “We are all in this together”.And so for two nights I got to sit in the audience and not only feel such pride for my own girls – who were amazing by the way! But feel such joy for each and every one of these kids.And to the surprise of many – including myself – with the exception of one moment – I didn’t cry. All I felt was joy. In the past, the middle school play has sold in the neighborhood of 300 tickets a night. The first night we closed in on 450 tickets. After the buzz of the first night – we sold out all 600 seats, brought in seats for more people and turned people away because of fire code. We were all so amazed. And as the large group of 8th graders took their final bow – there was a heart swelling in the room.I truly had no idea how much skill, talent, knowledge and man (woman!) power goes into running a production like this. And it was truly an honor to be invited to be part of it. Thanks so much for letting me share this story and photos with you today – and as always thank you for reading and have an amazing day! postsignature.pngP.S. If you would like to read about our previous Drama experiences, you can read (reading this one still makes me cry) Finding: Lessons from My Children or learning about photographing children on stage and the classic - A Munchkin and Teenagers are Not Evil.

March 19, 2014 — Laura Putnam