Several months ago, I sat in on a Summer Mummers board meeting as they hashed out the calendar for 2015's show. Among other important dates, they set June 5th as opening night. That date has been stuck in my head for quite some time now. Look at today's date.
Here we are. We made it. Three days of auditions in April. Six weeks of rehearsals throughout April, May, and June. Gallons of sweat. Hours of work. Weeks of skipped meals, unwashed laundry, and disregard for anything resembling a home life. Why? Why do we do this?
We do this for tonight.
We do this for that first step out of car at the Yucca, when the aroma of popcorn fills our nasal cavity. We do this for that first step through the stage door, where we encounter the eery calm before the storm. We do this for the preshow rituals that have lasted for decades, passed down from Mummer to Mummer. We do this for the first step onto the stage, when the crowd can make even the most down-on-their-luck performer feel like a million bucks. We do this for the adrenaline rush of knowing that we are making somebody's entire weekend. We do this because it's worth it.
Here's my favorite thing about opening night. Every year, we have a few new cast members. They may have seen Summer Mummers before. They may have worked at Summer Mummers before in an offstage capacity. But every opening night, I love watching the reactions of new Mummers performers who have just come offstage from their first appearance at Mummers. The facial expressions, the excitement, and the adrenaline. It just thrills me to pieces.
A special thanks goes out to the Summer Mummers board. Michael Fields, Cody Tumlin, Greg Alexander, Ashley Tate. Cody Massengale, and Michelle Wagner. These six people make Summer Mummers exist. That is no exaggeration. While others give a helping hand here or there, the Summer Mummers Board is the primary reason that we get to do what they do. And the most amazing part? They do it for free. They work harder than any paid employee that I have ever seen anywhere. That's dedication to a cause.
If you will read the first blog that I ever wrote for the website, you'll get my account of my first night onstage at Summer Mummers. My post-show adrenaline was at its peak. After the show, I sat down to regain my composure. A Mummers veteran patted me on the back and said one sentence that I'll now say to our new cast members.
Soak it in, kid. You're a Mummer now.