Oh, Mozart. What an incredible opportunity! Eric approached me and gave me the short version. “MJ, we will be working on an education piece, called ‘Mozart.’ You will be playing Nannerl, Mozart’s sister.” I thought, “Cool. I love working on shows for children and I love music. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal.”
It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out we would be performing this piece at the famous Cincinnati Music Hall with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. What!
This would not be my first time on the stage of Music Hall, however. My parents met in Cincinnati while my mom was going to school at CCM. And she, in fact, performed on the stage of Music Hall while I was in her belly. As you can imagine, my mother was absolutely touched when she heard that I was going to be working on a piece that would be performed there, as well.
The process went something like this. Eric brought in a first draft of the script. We then spent a few days tossing around ideas, rewriting portions of the script, and brainstorming blocking concepts for some of the music selections. Then we began to put the show on its feet. All in all, the rehearsal process was quick and easy. Eric was open to all ideas and really gave the cast and opportunity to play around and make changes throughout. It was a complete collaboration. When it came time to perform the show in front of the 1500+ audience, we all felt a strong sense of ownership. This was something we created together.
As for the actual performance, I can describe the experience in one word: thrilling. There is nothing more exciting than entering a stage with an entire orchestra playing just feet away from you. It is one thing to go see a symphony performance, it is another thing to feel like you are walking amongst them. It was fantastic. I had a very hard time standing backstage and not conducting along with Vince, our maestro for the day.
And let me just say, there is no audience more forgiving and loving than an audience full of children. To them, we could do no wrong. After the performance, we were surrounded by glowing faces that wanted our autographs, a photo, or just to say ‘hello.’ To me, there is rarely a more satisfying theatrical experience than realizing you had an opportunity to make an impact on a child’s life.