September 12, 2021
“There’s a million things I haven’t done, just you wait.” | Hamilton
Anyone who knows theater and anybody that’s seen Hamilton will read that quote and sing the song in their head. Iniveitably, they will have it stuck there for the next three days.
I don’t know why, but every single piece of music in that show sticks to my memory FAST. I love the musical Newsies. The Broadway version is the BEST and it’s always been a favorite of mine. But now, Hamilton has surpassed it. That music can get stuck in my head so quickly. All I have to do is hum a phrase and somewhere in the house I hear Caleb singing the same song.
When I was in Grand Rapids staying with my sister so I could do her session as well as Steph and John’s, I was humming a song while I was uploading images. My sister laughed and said, “He’s so funny.” I remember thinking, who? OH. King George III. I hadn’t realized that I was humming his song! It’s ironic, because the only music I played during the drive to Grand Rapids was the music from Newsies. I thought I’d have THAT stuck in my head, but somehow the king made his way in there and that’s all I could think about.
I’ve not seen the show in person, but I don’t think I could watch it live if the original performers weren’t involved. Caleb and I have never seen it on stage before and decided to give it a try when it came out on Disney+. We didn’t speak through Act 1. We went to bed at Intermission because it was so late. And then we didn’t speak through Act 2. It was that mesmerizing.
I don’t think it’s just because it’s a good musical. And, it wasn’t because we were reading subtitles (I’m not used to listening to rap). I think it’s because both Caleb and I love the passionate nuances of theater. We were captivated by the simplicity and use of the stage and minimalistic set pieces. The blocking is SO pretty. The show never hesitates. The use of diverse actors for characters you’ve only seen one way your whole life was so creative and important. The entire story from beginning to end is a BEAUTIFUL line of historical representation that taught me more about Alexander Hamilton than any book.
AGH. I want to watch it again. Never mind that it takes historical, creative liberties. It’s beautiful.
There are two people in Grand Rapids that COMPLETELY understand what I’m talking about. John and Stephanie have been involved in theater for years and are now closely connected to the theater scene in that city. In fact, as we hiked through this gorgeous, natural setting on the outskirts of town, John was already talking about rehearsal that night. He’s in the middle of two shows right now, Anything Goes with the Grand Rapids Players and Around the World in 80 Days with the Grand Rapids High School. I LOVE busy seasons, and I have to admit that I was a little jealous. I haven’t directed a staged show in a few years.
A number of years ago, I met Stephanie in Fergus Falls when I was attending Trinity Lutheran Church. She started to attend Redeemer’s Song Ministries and played some of my favorite characters in our shows. It was such a JOY to direct her both in RSM and at A Center for the Arts in Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie and Robin Hood. It was no surprise to me at ALL that she married a person who loves theater as much as she does.
Out of every experience that I’ve had with Steph, one of my most FAVORITE days with her was spent photographing her and John’s wedding. It seems so long ago now, with their beautiful kids running around, but it also feels like just yesterday. I knew that Steph had found someone that shared the same purposeful love for telling stories. Between the two of them, and for a long time, they’ve created some LOVELY pieces together (and are NEVER afraid to dress up for my photo sessions!!). Hearing about their love for their performing arts hub in Grand Rapids is such a testimony to how much they care about what happens there.
John and Steph, there are so few people who REALLY care about investing so much time, energy, and love into something that feels like it’s always stressing you out. I get it. I’ve been there SO many times. But, I know we keep doing it because it feeds a part of us that God created: He instills in us a desire to make beautiful things, like He does. We love telling stories, moving people with them, and giving people opportunities to be a part of the process. It can be emotionally, physically, mentally and sometimes spiritually draining. People say to me all the time, “Why do you keep doing it, if it’s so stressful?”
Well? Maybe this reason:
“I am the one thing in my life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original.” | Hamilton
You are ONE of a kind. The both of you have a lot to offer. Directors know what it’s like to see the audience’s reaction and to feel so in awe of how lines, music and design can move people to tears and laughter. It’s SO fun being in the show and incredibly satisfying directing one. It’s a place we’d stay and never leave, if given a choice and money.
And then we do it for no money anyway, because we love it that much.
So, hang in there! Keep creating beautiful things not only on the stage but in your family! You truly are an original.
Florals | North in Bloom, Stephanie Schroeder