When I was a kid my mom taught drama and all the school plays at my elementary school. Mainly, so she could be near her two daughters but also because she truly loved it. After all, she gave up her directing career to be a mom so if it couldn’t be Broadway at least it could be a street in our lives she knew mattered.
So, when my daughter’s middle school lost their school director and it looked like there might not be a production this year guess who decided to come out of retirement at the tender age of 83?
My mom, or should I say, my daughter’s grandmother. Let’s be honest, this time around she was doing it for her. My child. Her granddaughter who she knew loved being a part of the school musical productions.
Now, my daughter has no desire to be an actor but if she did I would have to completely encourage it because, well, she’s that good. Yep, she inherited her grandpa’s natural singing voice and acting chops and is completely at home on stage. But, for her, it’s just a fun outlet.
As it is for so many of these kids. A place to dress up, get lost, rehearse after school and perform for their friends and family. But for others this is what they want to do when they grow up. This is their deepest passion. What an enormous loss it would’ve been for all these kids if the show didn’t go on.
So, there was my mom, who hadn’t directed a school production in over 35 years, showing up for the job.
From Encino to Studio City every day for the past 7 months my mom, who refuses to take the freeway, drove her little 83 year old butt to a public middle school to direct Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods.
Into The Woods, indeed!
I remember picking up my daughter from rehearsal one afternoon, sitting outside the auditorium and hearing the all too familiar words come from a young girl’s mouth,
Miss Baer, do you think this is right for my character?
Miss Baer. I heard those two words all throughout my childhood. Heard it as kids were on stage learning about blocking, projecting, memorizing, acting. Even I had to call my mom Miss Baer because she didn’t want the kids to ever feel like I was getting special treatment.
Believe me, I never was. I was once cast as a mute bird. A mute bird!
The thing is, my mom did something for these kids, for my kid, that they’ll never forget. She showed up for them. She encouraged them. She sometimes got very frustrated with them. She believed in them. And she made a promise that the show will absolutely go on.
And it did.
A show about wishes and wants, fears and hopes, love and loss and children. Children.
Saturday night was the final performance and after the curtain call I got to watch my daughter, along with the entire cast, thank Miss Baer for not just being one child’s grandmother… but for being all of their grandmother.
Thank you, mom. It may not be Broadway but it is most definitely a street in our lives that matter.
And at 83… you still got it.