It’s springtime! And that means high schools all across the country are pulling out their dance shoes, memorizing lyrics, and taking the stage to perform big, shiny musicals! We here at Notre Dame are no different. Our spring musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, kicked off rehearsals last week and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
As a dancer/choreographer turned theatre teacher, the musical is naturally my favorite show of the year. This is my bread and butter and I know this particular show so well that I could do it in my sleep. I have now worked on Joseph six times in my career. I have performed in it three times and choreographed it twice. This is my first time directing it. This kind of intimacy with the material has benefits and drawbacks. While I want to create a fresh new production, I find myself falling back on previously used steps and stage pictures. I can’t decide if I am being lazy by recycling concepts or if this is just the way (to my mind) the show is meant to be done. I mean, maybe the version of “One More Angel” I put together three years ago is the best version of that song I could possibly stage and I should keep doing it. It still looks pretty good. But there is always a nagging in the back of my head that says I am supposed to be creating from scratch, transcending to some new level of technicolor amazingness.
Not sure if this thought is driving me to artistic genius or sheer madness to be honest, but not needing to reinvent the wheel has a lot of benefits—even if itis not the highest level of art one could possibly achieve. Do I go with something that I know works and saves on time and effort? Or do I keep pushing to make new, better theatre at the cost of my energy and personal life? Or should I save all my artistic airs for at least the second or third year of teaching when I am not trying to hold everything together with two hands and some gaffer’s tape?
I’ll probably dither back and forth on these questions for many years to come. And frankly, I’m not sure there is a right answer. Luckily, when my inner monologue is really going crazy, the rationalist inside me stops and thinks, “As long as the people in the seats are entertained, I’ve done my job!”