The Final Bow

Last night, after our final performance of our all-school musical production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, I took my final bow.

I’ve directed at Spring Lake High School for ten years now and it’s time for me to be done.

I thought I’d take this time to just remember some of the great moments.  There were hundreds, maybe thousands of great moments over the years, but these stand out.

Here’s the breakdown of the emotions:

  • I’ve laughed like never before.  During Beauty and the Beast (show #3), our Lumiere played marvelously by Brett Newsted, was going through his normal routine.  The hit song, “Be Our Guest” took about a whole week to choreograph, but it was good.  Really good.  At the end of the song, Lumiere does a running slide downstage, arms out, and stops on the final note.  The perfect end to a perfect number. Rehearsal after rehearsal, Brett had been doing the number in his denim jeans. Then, it was our first night in costumes and his pants were not denim. Oh no! His pants were smooth silk. So, we run the show and Brett hits everything perfectly, but those new pants let him keep right on sliding until he was on top of our pit pianist. After the initial dread and once I knew he’d be okay, I laughed like I had never laughed before.
  • I’ve cried like never before.  When Emily Roberge and Jack Newsted sang “A Little Fall of Rain” on the final performance of Les Miserables, I flooded. That is the song that brings out so much emotion for me. In that song is love, respect, compassion–and those two actors hit it perfectly. Their beautiful voices and performances made me cry like never before.
  • I’ve been angry like never before.  We perform the third weekend after spring break and that’s the same time we’d add running crew, orchestra, lights, sound, and more.  The actors, who up to this point have had five weeks of rehearsal, always needed to have lines memorized that Monday after break.  I was forgiving–for one day.  I won’t name names, but there were students still calling for lines on the Thursday after break.  I remember whipping my notebook against the back of the chair–a really good smack–only for one of the young children we used in the production to be sitting close by.  She looked at me startled.  I demanded greatness and got frustrated and angry like never before.
  • I’ve been afraid like never before.  Annie. Anyone involved in this production knows with just one word why I was so scared here.  It was the night before opening (maybe two nights before) and we were in Warbucks’ foyer with all of the staff welcoming the tough red head into the home when a loud pop, then two and three.  Before you know it, the bridge we hung on the bars above to set the scene for the Hoovervilles came crashing down.  The bridge (I don’t know how many pounds, but many) came within two feet of a singing Warbucks’ servant.  A close call which made me afraid like never before.
  • I’ve dared like never before.  In my ownership of the department, I decided to push myself in what I thought could be possible. I brought Shakespeare to our high school stage proving that The Bard belongs in the lives of teens. I made it rain, I used a rotating stage, I used projections to set mood, we performed in Theatre in the Round, I brought in a Holocaust Survivor, a judge, and a special education student who told us what it was like to be different.  I used theatre to push myself and the students involved. It allowed me to dare like never before.

Though I use a lot of first person in this blog, it takes a village: great parent volunteers and an amazing team of directors–some of whom came and went (Jenn, Tom, Mary, Jaime, Lydia, Mike, Addison, Nick and more) and others who were with me the whole time (Robin, Shay, Mark, and Aaron)–thank you!

Finally, I leave with this.

If I have enriched the lives of these hundreds of students half as much as they have enriched me, I’ve done a pretty good job.

4 thoughts on “The Final Bow

  1. So it's finals week for me back at MSU. I saw your post on facebook and decided to indulge in your last words about the one thing you were so passionate about at spring lake besides teaching. I felt touched reading this, knowing I was there for all but one of those moments. I was just thinking the other day about how much being involved in theater changed the way that I felt about music and the written word, and how there can be so much more than just the black and white marks. Looking back as a spring lake alum of two years now, some of my most memorable moments were spent on that stage or in the pit. It was a blast. You brought the life and energy and passion out of those kids in the theater like I had never seen anyone do until I joined the Spartan Marching Band. You are an inspiration. Not only a teacher, but a lighter, igniting the potential in all. I was just steps away when that bridge/drop down thing/flat fell in Annie. of course I wasn't on the prop, I was backstage and was able to move. I've never seen so much panic in a person's face, or you move that fast before. Les miserabes was my all time favorite show, and still is. I was in the pit that year. My favorite moment was the end. I love how everyone comes together and of course my part in the pit that year on the drum set was the loudest I got to play throughout the whole show, so that was fun too. I enjoyed playing the drum set and goofing off all night. I experienced that musical through my ear piece, listening for my cues, and occasionally looking at Mr. G during parts where I felt challenged. Believe it or not, that was the first time I had EVER played the drum set. Haha, oh dear. Mr. G was always like “Liz! quieter.” I hated playing quietly. Actually pulling that music off, which, was very difficult no matter if you sang, played a drum, blew through a horn, strumed a guitar or played the piano..it gave me a whole lot of confidence in myself. I enjoyed the realness of that musical. Anyone can play loud. Anyone can play happy. It takes courage to be dark and show pain and do it well. Every person in that musical especially was fantastic. I've never been so emotional about a musical or even just the music itself. I had so much fun under Mr. G and you that year, and I became friends with one of my best friends to this day, who played one of the 3 keyboards. It became clear that music was more than sound, and words had more than the clear dictionary definition. I wanna thank you for everything you've done for the passed ten years, and I'm glad I was able to experience four of them.

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  2. Oh Theune, this was the best part of my high school years (and the year I came back). There are too many memories. Thank you for all of them and for believing in me then and now. I can't imagine high school without theatre and I can't imagine it without you. I can't wait to see what else you have in store for you; you succeed at all that you do. There are some awfully big shoes to fill. 🙂

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  3. There are too many memories for me to put down here, but I will say that being a part of Spring Lake theater was one of the best things I've ever done. I'm so happy that Elle and Brett kept me from leaving auditions, due to nerves, for Singin' in the Rain. Thank you Mr. Theune for the time and effort you've put into these shows! You will always be a part of some of my greatest memories! 🙂

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  4. It was a great run, and we've enjoyed so much of it. And I love that it ends a) on a high note and b) because you've transferred that kind of enthusiasm and authenticity to all your teaching. Rock on, Mr Theune.

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