Our oldest son joined ATORT two years ago as a sophomore, and this Sunday, when “Fiddler On the Roof” concludes, he will step from the stage for the seventh and final time as a graduating senior.
We can’t quite put words to all our feelings; when he announced his decision to “try theater,” we were pleased. He needed some direction and we believed his personality would lend itself generously to the stage.
But we had no idea how invested our entire family would become. My son has done all the work, but our whole family has shared in the joys and frustrations.
Late rehearsal nights, cranky early mornings, trying to keep the school-work caught up while learning songs, dialogue and dance steps. There have been tears, anger, self-doubt. (And just TRY to find size 14 tap shoes in Northern Arizona!)
But every difficult step was rewarded: the dance steps finally clicked; rehearsals began to pass error-free; then the curtain went up, and a supportive community rose to its feet to applaud.
It is all ending much too soon.
We haven’t the words to describe our melancholy. It’s an affliction I’m certain we share with ATORT parents past and future; a complex mix of pride, sorrow, hope and reflection. It’s almost like an affliction …l et’s call it Parentitus Atortius.
When all is said and done, though, the single biggest pay-off is the kids; the friends my son has made; the lasting bonds he has tied through shared trials and triumphs with his cast and crew-mates. Wonderful young people we might not otherwise have met. Yes, it’s a cliche to say many of them have become like our own children, but what’s a Big Production without a few cliches?
I’ll end with a quick true story: One weekend, I asked my son to get five or six buddies over here to carry into the house a huge couch. He dialed up his theater pals. They grunted and struggled to get the couch in, hilarious (and vulgar) quips flying the entire time. Once the couch was settled into place, instead of exchanging high fives and war whoops, they simultaneously broke into song
That is ATORT.