An Ode to the High School Stage

The stage in my high school auditorium became a second home for four years of my life. Following closely behind the field hockey field where I spent hours running through drills, celebrating wins with my teammates and more, the stage brought nothing but comfort during musical season. I laughed, I cried, I made unforgettable memories up there. But when my high school years came to an end, so did my career in musical theater.

Now, I often watch the productions put on at my university and work in the department of performing arts among many other things to keep my love for theater alive. But in March, I was lucky enough to return to my high school to see the annual spring musical that my brother was starring in for his senior year. Due to the pandemic, my brother’s time on stage was impacted, but it was exciting to return to the place I had loved so much to see him in the high school’s production of “Chicago.”

The cast did a phenomenal job to say the least. My brother played the role of Billy Flynn, the male lead in the musical, and crushed it on stage. There are certain standards of shows done at Wallkill Valley Regional High School, especially if you’ve seen a previous show or have been in a production yourself. So there was no disappointment there. But what surprised me, is how emotional I got just in the audience as everyone took bows on opening night.

There’s something so unique and special about taking a bow on stage at the end of a show. All the hard work has paid off at that time. Hearing everyone’s applause, seeing the standing ovation, as you bow to show your appreciation is a moment like no other. It’s difficult to explain to anyone who has not experienced it, but it’s a feeling I will never forget from my time doing musicals and being up on stage in front of audiences.

So when the cast got together for their big final bow, I felt tears prick at the corners of my eyes. Whether it was because I missed this time in my life more than I realized or because I was unbelievably proud of my younger brother, the emotions got the best of me. Nothing of this nature has not happened since I had left behind my musical theater days. And as I stood there clapping with a smile on my face, the nostalgia of all the memories I had made in the same exact space came rushing back.

Now, as I tackle the last month of my college education before I graduate, an ode to the high school stage has never been more necessary. There are so many places and people I could credit with helping make me into the person I am today, but it took me seeing my brother’s senior musical to realize that stage gave me more than I ever thought. Closing another chapter of my life is scary, yet simultaneously allows me to look back on everything in the past that I have cherished for a multitude of reasons including my time doing musical theater.

Moral of the story, appreciate every moment as it’s happening. You’ll never know when the emotions of a time before will hit you again, but be sure to thank everyone and every place that has shaped who you are. Those things are irreplaceable and it’s truly spectacular to recognize how much you’ve grown over the years

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