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The show goes on

This is the last article in a three-part series about putting on a high school musical.

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It is finally time for the curtain to go up as we all start to sing "Tonight's the Night" in our heads. Opening night of Alden High School's "Crazy for You" is upon us, and we couldn't be more excited.

The Saturday before a show opens generally involves an all-day technical rehearsal, and it begins a process called "tech week," better known as "hell week." Every night there are long dress rehearsals, involving makeup, costumes, lights, pit orchestra, microphones, stage crew and the cast coming together to perfect the show before it is presented to an audience. Typically, tech week is long and stressful, as was the case with "Crazy for You."

Our tech rehearsals ran from 3 p.m. until about 9 p.m. each night. We also had a preview day, where we spent the whole school day performing certain parts of the show for students in different grades followed by another dress rehearsal, a total of 12 hours of rehearsal in one day! By Thursday, there was no doubt we were ready.

Opening night began around 4 p.m. Many of the follies girls arrived on time to get their hair and makeup done. As the rest of the cast filed in, it was evident that the atmosphere was a little different than it had been the past few nights. Everyone had opening night adrenaline flowing through their veins as we practiced what were soon to become preshow traditions. For the girls, this meant having a dance party in our dressing room. For the guys, it involved having a "cowboy meeting" in their dressing room, which involved them clapping and cheering, similar to a football team getting ready for a big game.

Then we gathered in the band room to do vocal warm-ups and hear the classic opening night speech from our director, which prompted a few tears from the seniors.

Once the show began, it all went by so fast. The energy levels onstage were unbelievable. One of the big numbers, "I Got Rhythm," which closes Act One, was very different from any rehearsal version. I cannot even recall what I felt while dancing during that song because I was so intensely immersed in the show. I didn't feel like myself -- I was the bubbly follies girl Mitzi, dancing with all of her friends in Deadrock, Nev.

Throughout the weekend, the cast grew more energetic and better every time they set foot onstage. That is what doing a show is all about. There is nothing more indescribable than the feeling you get looking out at an audience and performing with your heart and soul. (The satisfaction you feel after a standing ovation isn't so bad, either.)

While we all perfected our craft, we also grew closer to each other, making memories to last a lifetime. Closing night always comes too soon, and with this show especially, the feeling was mutual that no one wanted it to end. The few minutes before the overture involved some tears from a few of the cast members who had been hit with the reality that it was almost over. After all, we had spent the last three months hanging out with each other every day.

The sad truth hit me as we stood in our spots for curtain call. I stand next to my friend, Michelle, who I have grown closer than ever to throughout the course of this show, and it only took one look at her to make my eyes water. A glance across the stage at Charlotte, another one of my closest friends, took me over. I was trying to hold it in during our final dance, but it was too difficult. As soon as the curtain closed, the stage was filled with tears and hugs.

After putting away costumes, we all traveled to the Whistle Stop Restaurant, our traditional cast party location, for our last hurrah before leaving the musical behind. We all ate the famed french fries and pizza rolls, signed programs and T-shirts, gave gifts and speeches and danced the night away.

It was clear that the most rewarding part of theater is not just knowing that you all worked hard for a successful result, but all of the lasting friends and memories you make, which is why I encourage anyone I meet to participate in theater.

Mary Best is a senior at Alden High School.

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