So you think you want to take your kids to the theater?

Running through goose poo was not what I had in mind when I envisioned our first trip to the theater. "The Thee-ah-tah," as the girls and I have been calling it.

What I had pictured was the three of us (Just the bigs and I because Sweet Love? No.) enjoying a lovely day together, experiencing some culture and new things together. I wanted to see them take in the sights and sounds of staging a production, and to develop a new part of their brain that they aren't going to get anywhere else. Cultivating a love for the arts is really important to me, and one of my Get On It goals for this school year is to do a better job about taking my kids to museums and performances. I have taken them to Children's Theater and to the ballet and to performances at our favorite public library, but the Shakespeare Festival is a whole other level. 

I just really want my girls to fall in love with "the thee-ah-tah" so that we can share this hobby like, for the rest of our lives or something. So no pressure on the outing, right?  

I had wobbled back and forth for the past several weeks on the splurge to tickets for Mary Poppins, a Broadway performance put on through the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Finally I caved late one night when ASF posted an announcement that almost every showing had sold out. Sassafras and Pearl have been positively obsessed with Mary Poppins the past few months, and we've all watched or listened to that movie no less than 10 times. The thee-ah-tah, their favorite show, a Broadway production...all the stars were aligning. 

The timing of it was also to celebrate our first week back at school, Pearl Girl's first week at kindergarten, and Sassafras's first week in second grade. Also, hey, happy 13th year of teaching to me and I made it through a boatload of miserable meetings and tasks this week, so there was that to celebrate as well. Just celebrations all over the place, baby. Sassypants was really jazzed up about it, and said that, "What would be really good, Mama, is if we like watch the movie on the way down and then we like compare it to the play." She just about wrote up a lesson plan for it, you guys. Makes a teacher mama proud! 

After a pit stop for some natural throat lozenges (Sass has had a bit of mouth/throat pain), it was what we refer to as a "One Movie's Length" car ride to the Shakespeare Fest. Pearl carefully selected the 10 minutes prior to our arrival in which to fall slap out, head pressed up on the window asleep. That meant the next 30 minutes (conveniently the same time we were arriving, unloading, walking half a mile across the parking lot to the theater building, etc. ) would be less than wonderful/happy/positive/exciting/anything good at all for her. She didn't want to wake up or get out of the van or walk all that way across the parking lot or step over the goose poo left by some critters from nearby ponds or stop for a picture by the cool sign outside or walk up the steps to the theater. She whined and whimpered and cried every.step.of.the.way. 

Also? Rain. Because of course it was. 

Also? Rain. Because of course it was. 

What she did want to do, and was very vocal about it, was to hold the tickets.  

Whatever, man. Just get out of the van, amIright? 

Also, it was about 100 steamy degrees out there. Just to fully set the scene for you. 

So I got my little ducks over the little piles of poo and across the parking lot and up the stairs and we were this close to the door when...Pearl only had one ticket. 

I smiled at the very nice ASF man who has opened the door to welcome us into The Thee-ah-tah (so, so close) with a cold blast of AC and we turned around and headed back out to the van. 

Back down the stairs and across the parking lot. I continued to rummage through my purse (not one I use often, and Sass asked me today before we left if it was my Special Occasion purse. Uh, sure. I guess? And anyway, how does she even know about Special Occasion purses?) to look for the other two tickets. I am ashamed to admit I was less than patient with the supposed keeper of the tickets, and was foreseeing a wasted One Movie's Length drive as well as the wasted cost of three whole tickets. 

By no small act of mercy, we were almost back to the van when we suddenly saw our other two tickets fluttering across the parking lot in the wind. There were gobs of people heading the other direction INTO the theater as I and my crew ran back through them - and, I am sorry to say, in a most unladylike fashion, through the lot to stomp on and catch the tickets before they got pulverized or hit a portkey or flew in the pond or a fairy ran off with them or something. You just never can tell what might happen at The Thee-ah-tah. One of us had an unfortunate encounter with some goose droppings but she and her once-beautiful black sandal shall remain nameless.

Hot and sweaty and trying real hard not to be ill as hornets, we trekked BACK across the lot and up the stairs and finally, blessedly, into the air conditioned foyer. Sass immediately asked for her mouth/throat spray, which she would periodically continue to do and I would dig in my strange and impractical Special Occasion purse for 10 minutes until I could find it. 

Because I had actually anticipated some degree of shenanigans and we were still about 30 minutes early, we had a minute to grab a soda (and argue about snacks) and peruse the gift shop. The girls decided they wanted a kite and a mug and a necklace and a tote bag and a Christmas ornament and a magnet and a keychain and a deck of cards. We settled on an ornament, but there was some scuffle over WHICH ornament, so we vacated the premises and went on to our seats. On the way out, Sass really had to stop and admire the jewelry, declaring that "This. Mama, now THIS is REALLY a Special Occasion kind of necklace."

Blurry pic but I'm including it anyway because it was a "Special Occasion" moment.

Blurry pic but I'm including it anyway because it was a "Special Occasion" moment.

And I continued to wonder where the heck she picked up this Special Occasion thing and why it was stuck all up in her head at the moment. Were we about to go sit in some "Special Occasion" seats? Would it be a "Special Occasion" bathroom? Has she read a book about "Special Occasions?" Was there a "Special Occasion" theme on one of the America's Funniest videos we've watched? I just don't even know, y'all. 

mary poppins.jpg

The Mary Poppins show was, and I am not even slightly exaggerating here, profoundly incredible. The performers were top notch, set design and costumes and choreography were pristine, musical score was beyond beautiful, and there were a few adult themes (Banks family dynamics, some gender humor, etc.) but mostly it was perfectly on a kid's level. Plus also, there was some flying above the audience and that's always cool. The storyline veered a bit from the movie version, and Sass frequently leaned over to analyze those details with me and decide which one she liked better. She also guffawed so loudly at the slapstick humor and sang her heart out to "Let's Go Fly a Kite" that I am convinced every soul in that room, down to the orchestra pit, heard her. I just stared in wonder and me eyes glistened and I shushed her only a tiny bit because I could see it...I was witnessing her falling in love with The Thee-ah-tah. 

I also witnessed her spray half the crowd with Chloroseptic, because of the 5 or so times she asked me for it during the play, she was always too distracted to aim the spray hole in her mouth. And that was unfortunate for our seatmates and row neighbors, I am sad to say. 

She refused to leave when it was over and insisted we stay for the Q & A with the actors. Now, if you know my Sassypants even a little bit you know she is a Question Asker. She is also that kid who thinks she's supposed to answer theoretical questions from speakers. Loudly. Bless her. So I was a smidge nervous but she never really got a question in. She just wanted to listen to the actors talk about their experiences and how hard they have to work and she just loved it. 

And I loved that she loved it. Pearl Girl enjoyed it, too, but it remains to be seen just how much she was actually thinking about it. The dancing and singing and flying were her favorite bits by far. She laughed out loud when everyone else did, but she hasn't made any comments other than to sing some of the songs. 

Yes, yes indeed, Mary Poppins! Kudos to the entire cast and crew for a job very well done. 

Yes, yes indeed, Mary Poppins! Kudos to the entire cast and crew for a job very well done. 

We (and by "we" I mean "I") may have all felt all worn down and wrung out by the time we pulled in the driveway, but this first real adventure into the world of the arts was truly magnificent. We aren't ready or prepared for season tickets or anything, but will most assuredly be taking in more of the arts this year. 

And you should, too! Because if I can survive The Thee-ah-tah and we can enjoy it despite the ruckus, so can you, my friends!