Bags of rehearsal gear in hand, the 44 participants filed out of the residence halls at New York University just as they had every other morning - though they wouldn't be taking their usual walk to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Instead, they were heading to Broadway. Twenty minutes and more than forty blocks later, they were ready to set up camp inside the Marquis Theatre, where they’d take the stage this evening for the 2010 JimmyTM Awards.
From the second they stepped off of their bus at 10 a.m. and were greeted with the “STAGE DOOR” sign on the theater’s back facade, even the first few moments of their arrival must have felt surreal. Following, literally, in the footsteps of the professional performers who take the stage at the Marquis each night, the group filed through the narrow maze of backstage hallways and staircases until they found their way to their dressing rooms. Soon (after the flashbulbs of plenty of photos taken as the students tried to soak in every minute of this once-in-a-lifetime experience) the spaces would quickly be filled to the brim with costumes and other supplies for the performance tonight, and the students would be ready to take to the stage for rehearsal.
By the time they made their way to the house to begin the final run-throughs, they found some corners of the venue already filled with the show’s production staff, many of whom had settled into their posts before the students had even eaten breakfast. Between the small army of technical experts perfecting the sound and lighting, to the musicians who were already running through the students’ songs, it couldn’t have been more apparent that the show exemplified a “team effort” – one that depended not only on the students’ commitment to their performances, but also the dedication of those working tirelessly behind the scenes.
As if the moments leading up to the rehearsal weren’t impressive enough, the reality of the day fully sunk in once the students stepped into the glow of the Marquis stage. One-by-one, they stepped out onto the floor and immediately turned to gaze out at the seats that would soon be filled with applauding audience members. But rather then bask in his or her own excitement, each student turned to find a new friend close by to share the moment with.
Between smiles and plenty of hugs, the brief moments before rehearsal told as much – if not more – of what the NHS Musical Theater AwardsTM are about than the performance itself. Just as the directors had predicted when they began the week, the students bonded over hours of rehearsals spent learning from professionals, and from each other. And by the time “places” are called and the curtains were about to rise, they’d be ready to take the stage not as 44 students, but as one 2010 NHS Musical Theater AwardsTM company.