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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Play

In May I was asked to help create and perform a play in our church ward. I agreed and set out to write a 40 minute play, complete with music, three different acts, stage directions and prop instructions. About a day after I started writing I realized what a HUGE project it would be.
Getting into costume backstage

After writing up a script I ran it by two other incredible women - Sister Hukill & Sister Call. They gave it a go ahead and we cast our characters.
Blurry Lamanites

I thought my part was primarily done, but it turned out I was also asked to co-direct the play with Jan (Sister Call). We scheduled play practice for each Tuesday night and began.

Because there were nearly 40 members from our ward involved it became quite a challenge to first, get people to show up to practice, and second direct that many people at practice! I really have to hand it to Jan, because she has a much more director-ish personality than me. She really stepped up to the plate and got everyone moving in the right direction.One of our Lamanites

Meanwhile - our original costume designer had to back out because of some family emergencies out of town, so myself and two other ladies also began to sew costumes.The opening Sunday School scene - that is me - playing the Sunday School teacher

We practiced, practiced, practiced. Our performance date was set for October 10, and we held our first dress rehearsal the Tuesday before.

I would by lying if I said the dress rehearsal ran smoothly, Trevor, who was in the play said it best as we walked home together: "We really could do like 12 more dress rehearsals before we are totally ready."The BOM characters coming out of the Book of Mormon

We tried another dress rehearsal Friday night, Oct. 9, and I am pretty sure it was even more rough than the first. We decided that we also needed to do another rehearsal Saturday morning. So we did - and it went a little bit better. However, we learned that the man who was planning to run our spotlights suffered a heart attack that morning. We were relieved to learn that he was ok, and just needed to rest. We were also extra relieved that my grandparents were here and stepped up to the spotlight plate.
The opening scene in Act II - the entire cast singing and dancing

Even though there were some major set backs there were also some major victories. The man who made our large Book of Mormon prop was AWESOME! It looked so good! The opening act of the play calls for some characters who represent Book of Mormon characters to be inside a large book that looks like it is open on its side. The book is back-lit with a huge spotlight and at first all the audience sees are the shadows of the characters inside of the book. It turned out to be amazing.
Trevor as Helaman with one of his warriors

Many of our cast members - the BOM characters in particular were amazing. Trevor played Helaman and was so cute!This is the group of little boys I worked with - singing their big song. Notice Trev in the background

We also had some young men and young women and primary kids really come through for us. I practiced with the primary kids every Friday afternoon in addition to Tuesday nights.One of my favorite scenes

Word of our play also seemed to spread throughout the area. The week of the play the Bishop called and told us we needed to plan for an extra 100 people in the audience. Turns out people were coming from out of town, from the stake and all over to watch the play. Trev and I alone had 15 extra people planning to come to support us.Yes, this is me, playing the part of an Ensign Writer

This would have been less problematic if all we had to do was set up chairs, but we had planned for a ward dinner to proceed for the first hour before the play began. Luckily, the ward dinner was an easy potluck. Ward members had been asked to bring either 1- plain spaghetti noodles, 2- spaghetti sauce, 3- plain green salad, 4-salad dressing, or 5-a dessert. The ward just had to provide the breadsticks, plates and utensils. We made some extra phone calls, and instructed all cast members to tell any extra visitors to bring some food.

Saturday night the place was packed! We barely had enough food - and I think the desserts may have run out a little early. The play started right on time.King Benjamin in the final scene

And it went....practically perfectly! I really could not believe it. Everyone really came together. They remembered their lines, they delivered them wonderfully, they sang loud and danced well. Everyone in the audience stayed. The audience laughed at the super-cheesy lines in my script and it was just amazing.Singing the final, closing song

At the end of the play, after our curtain call, two kind cast members called for me, Sister Call, and Sister Hukill to come up. They gave us each a dozen roses. The bishopric also gave us a bouquet of lilies. It was so sweet and touching. I couldn't sleep that night because I just kept thinking about how far we had all come and how well it went.

I am so grateful to live in a wonderful neighborhood, with such a nice sense of community. We really became close with the other cast members, and I think the experience as a whole was good for everyone. The following Sunday our ward held fast and testimony meeting, and I was surprised how many people spoke about the play - both cast and audience members.

It was a ton of work, but probably one of the coolest church activities I have ever been involved in. For anyone who is interested - here is a link to the script: Remember - it is a goofy Mormon comedy and it was my first play-writing attempt - so no harsh judgments please! :)


Erin and Ty said...

That is so fun!

Stacey said...

it was an amazing success!!! yay!! also- i love you spelled the stacey girls name like i do :) so happy it all turned out so great!!

Nate and Jamie said...

Wow Chelsi you never cease to amaze me! That is awesome! I'm glad it came together for you!