Last week I told you about this play (Roadshow) that I was directing for my church congregation. I even mentioned the most important line of the show. Without it, the light bulb moment that leads to the climax of the story doesn't make sense.
Keep in mind, most of our cast were kids from 11-18 years old. Some were nervous, some were excited, others were downright terrified.
I had to sit on the front row and simply watch. Can I tell you how much I hated that? Not being able to DO anything but see the story unfold and flinch if anything went wrong was pretty much terrible.
Anyway, back to the story.
The first song went well, if not a little slow. The audience chuckled when they were supposed to, and even those in the back could hear the words. (We had people singing live to a piano, which isn't the easiest thing in the world) The second scene set the theme of the story, and went off beautifully. Singing, dancing and the big rivalry went off without a hitch.
Then came scene three. This is the one where we had to add lines of dialogue because so many of the youth wanted to participate. This is the moment when the most important line is to be uttered. I watched my script, ready to prompt people if they needed help. I stressed that the kids not close enough to the microphone weren't going to be heard. My feet wouldn't stay still. The scene progressed. I turned the page.
And that's when it happened.
It may be my fault. One guy says almost the same exact line (for good reason) twice within about ten lines of dialogue. We had the other kids memorize the line before theirs so they knew when to come on. So the one kid said the second version of his line instead of the first one, which threw half a page of talking out the window as the kid after that second version of the line picked up his cue and set off.
I looked up, opened my mouth and was about to prompt them to go back, but the next line and then the next line spilled out of mouths...just like we practiced.
So the audience didn't get that precious clue that I'd embedded into the play.
Then the fidgeting really started.
The next three scenes went great. The kids had the audience wrapped around their fingers, and the spots where we hoped people would laugh got filled by the melodious sound of about 200 people being amused. Shoulder angels that only sing lines of songs, crazy accents, It's a Small World with new lyrics, We Will Mock You...it went on and on.
Then came the moment when the hero is supposed to put the pieces together. Unfortunately, he hadn't received the first one. Of course our lead went right through the scene, and the moment when he figures out his solution, the audience cracked up.
Somehow they'd gotten it. Without the key line of the play the audience had put the premise together and had made the leap, just as our hero had.
So things didn't go quite as planned, but our Roadshow was a raging success. We got a lot of compliments, and everyone involved had a great time. Which forced me to brush off the missed line and bask in the cast's excitement. Because even though it wasn't perfect, the show still did its job.
We're all our worst critics. Just remember, sometimes a slightly flawed experience is just as good, or better, as the perfect moment.