An Awfully Big Adventure: Opening Night reflection; “When I was a boy I wished I could fly”

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Written by Joey deBettencourt

It’s opening night and I am flying.

At an elevation of 5,290 feet, 1,000 miles from home, and 1,800 miles from our rehearsal room, I have just pushed myself off of a ten foot high platform and now I am flying.  Below me I see the faces of 12 people who I trust my life with, rushing up to meet me. Six weeks ago I didn’t even know their names.

I was in Chicago working during the day as a carpenter and then rushing off to rehearse in the classroom of a church for an amazing play with the fantastic Steep Theatre only nine weeks ago. Working from 9am to 5pm and then rehearsing from 6 to 10pm was my standard day, as it is for a ton of fantastic actors and directors in Chicago. 15 minutes in an audition room changed all of that.  I had 5 weeks’ notice that I would be heading to NYC for rehearsal but it was my lifetime in Chicago that helped me do it. My life in Chicago helped me to work hard and love it.

Just past the glow of the lights on stage I can just make out a few of the 2,200 people in the audience.  Watching, waiting, as I fly through the air. Out there I know are the faces of our artistic team and our four understudies.  Unseen on all sides, our crew eight of who will travel with us from city to city, and many more from here in Denver waiting for the next scene change.

I had never been out of Chicago-land for more than a month in my entire life, NYC was never a place I had really felt a close connection to, but my rehearsal time changed all of that.  I also think I never worked so hard and so intensely with a group of actors as I did there. I had never enjoyed just being in the city as much as I did then.  Getting to know a whole new world of theatre and a whole new group of actors was part of the experience.

Now in Denver everyone is away from home. We are beginning to get into the tour mindset especially now that we are done with rehearsals and onto our performance schedule, eight shows a week after two weeks of rehearsals and previews.  It still doesn’t feel quite like touring yet and, as we are settling in to Denver, it doesn’t seem like we will be leaving in only one and a half weeks.

I can fly because I have a net  that is more than just some fabric and rope below me. A 10 foot platform at an elevation of 5,290 feet, 1,000 miles from home, 1,800 miles from rehearsal, 12 actors stand holding a net while eight crew members wait in the wings, four understudies ready to help, five brilliant creatives who took us through five brutal weeks so that tonight 2,200 people could catch a glimpse of Peter Pan actually flying through the air.

About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

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