Six years ago, my oldest daughter was a freshman in high school. Little did I know then, that year would change my life forever. You see, she is a wonderful vocalist and became a wonderful performer over the next four years. Each year I donated my time and energy to becoming a “hair and makeup mom” during the Spring musical. When she was a junior, my second daughter was a freshman. This is my sixth year and I’m a chairman of the Hair and Makeup Committee and my third daughter is now a freshman. So far, I’ve done hair and makeup for Anything Goes, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Bye Bye Birdie, Addams Family and now FOOTLOOSE!
This may not sound like a huge commitment. That’s what I thought six years ago, too, until I started coming and styling 60 heads of hair with the other five or six moms who were donating their time and talents. I had no experience of training in this arena other than doing my own hair and makeup for the shows we did in high school and my girls’ ballet performances years ago, but that meant nothing. Every pair of hands is necessary and welcomed.
Each year there is a parent’s meeting where committee chairs are announced, expectations are spelled out for both kids and parents, forms are distributed and parents are asked to sign up for committees. No one asks me anymore. It is the expectation that I will be one of the committee chairs since I do know what I’m doing and I am going to be here for a long time. I still have an eight year old son in 3rd grade left. I don’t think his sisters will let him get away with not being a part of the musical experience when he gets to high school.
It is the most exhausting week and the most exhilarating week of each year for me. Not only do I get to spend the majority of time with my teens, I also get to know 60-80 other teens, some really well. These are such a great group of young people. This year, the production is FOOTLOOSE and it’s the revised version of the musical. Tonight is opening night and these kids have worked so hard. Many are top students in the school. No, their grades don’t drop due to musical. In fact, the motto for musical is “Study, study, study”. If their grades are down, they can’t participate.
I’m not a fan of that part because these kids really need the fine arts. There have been studies shown that the fine arts improve grade performance. When music and art are taken away from them, often, they have a harder time focusing on schoolwork. I know that may sound strange, but I was one of those kids and I have a couple of those kids too. I see when those with anxiety and depression shine thanks to the fine arts and when it’s taken from them, well, let’s just say, it hurts the very air they breath.
Now, having been a hair and makeup mom for all these years, I have to tell you it’s a lot of hard work that not only the kids put in, but also the staff and the support crew as well. As our dear director always says, it doesn’t take a village to put on a show, it takes a small suburb. He’s absolutely right. The costume moms and hair and makeup moms are the ones you see night after night. The costume moms probably clock the most hours just to make those kids look great on stage. The director, assistant director, producer, lighting crew, sound crew, backstage crew, set building crew, set painting crew, concession crew, ticket sale crew, advertising, programs, children’s event, and all the support crews it takes just to put on one show is really quite incredible. Each role is just as important and necessary. You can’t do it without one single person.
I love my role, but it’s exhausting. My house looks like it, too. My house is completely ignored during tech week each year thanks to the many hours I spend with these 60-80 kids. I have learned to do all sorts of things with hair that I never thought I would do. I never would dream of joining a different committee either. I just love mine that much.
The Thursday of tech week is an all day extravaganza. I spend my entire day with the kids. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the day the kids perform part of the show for some of the grade school kids in our area. It’s a teaser to promote the show and hopefully get them interested in performance too. That day is today. It’s also opening night. What this means is we hair and makeup moms are at the school at 8am, doing our gig. This year, that means really big hair, you know, the giant, teased hair of 1984 and bright makeup.
We have about 80 kids this year in the cast and that is a lot of heads to prepare in an hour and a half. This morning, there were 7 moms and 2 student helpers and we rocked it! The kids performed the promo show twice for two groups of students then were dismissed at the regular time from school. We get to do it all again at 5:30 and have to have everyone done by 7pm. Never a dull moment around here. By Sunday, our last show, we will have it all down pat and it will be time to strike the set (break it all down). These kids and adults work their tails off, but have a blast doing it.
Next Monday night, everyone will look around when it’s time to go to and realize, it’s all over. There is nothing to do now…until next year. And then they start to wonder what the director will choose to do next year. The seniors may or may not continue in theater, but their lives will forever be changed by these shows. Mine are each year. Each show is amazing and just when some of the incredible talent of one senior class has been lost and you think it can’t be replaced, along comes another equally talented group of young people filled with enthusiasm. What a joy to behold. Life just doesn’t get any better than this. Ah, but Monday, I will sleep!