Tap-dancer, mother of the Climber (15) & the Cherub (12), and girlfriend of Mr. Fixit.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
The Doctor is [IN]
As I mentioned in my last post, a parent whose child was about to participate in their first ever Kidtap Concert was asking me what to expect, and I, downplaying it as usual, told her it would all be very low-key. Striving to understand what I meant by that (who ever heard of a low-key dance concert?) she asked me if there would be a storyline. I told her she wasn't thinking low-key enough; but part of my brain thought Could there be a story? Why couldn't there be a story? I could make a story. And the idea wouldn't go away. I kept thinking about it, mostly while I was in the shower. The problem was the unlikely group of songs I was using for the show. They'd been chosen for reasons of dance-ability rather than curated to fit around a theme and at face value had little in common with each other.
At first I thought it's impossible, these songs can never be linked by a common thread. I thought that for a week, but however often I thought that I never let go of doing a story. Eventually, by dint of persistence, more long showers and the knowledge that the linking story could be as flimsy as all get-out if it had a skerrick of sense behind it, an idea that had possibilities presented itself. What if the common theme was advice, what if we set the whole thing in a counsellor's office, and the songs were all answers to problems? Further inspiration came from watching a Doctor Who special of Never Mind The Buzzcocks (on Youtube) where David Tennant suddenly started feeding Catherine Tate "Doctor, Doctor" jokes.
So with a plan in mind, I pitched it to the older kids to see if they'd be interested in being the actors, (umm, YES!!!) and started to fine tune the ideas. And with a deadline looming, I put myself on lockdown and wrote a script, with the aid of a corny joke book. The kids and I got together for one crazy, chaotic and creative afternoon a mere 6 days before the concert, where I handed out scripts and roles, gave them some directions and then told them to go home and LEARN THEIR LINES!! Which they did, bless their cotton showpony socks. What I loved was how willing they were to run with it, to hit all the jokes and to make a show. Let's put on a show!!! It was truly delicious. No wonder I love my job.
So with dances and lines learnt, lists ticked off and stuff carted over to the local primary school hall, the day of the concert dawned, and it was time to find out if I'd over-reached myself.
This was our opening scene, a waiting room of a doctor's office.
There was some fine ensemble comedic acting, (this scene was a lot of fun to put together) and then they did their seated tap-dance a'capella. We were up and running!
The second scene was based on a kid (my Climber) seeking help because he was sick of his mother always bossing him around. We played this for extra laughs by having him direct an accusing look at me over on the sidelines. The doctor's advice? Always do what your mother says, because your Mother is Always Right. (Cue Climber demanding his money back.) If you need proof of that, just listen to the story of the Three Little Fishies (It's the one where they swam and they swam - against the mother fishie's advice - right out to sea, met a shark and hurriedly came home again). Look at the adorable Little Fishies, just look at them.
Next we had a patient who wanted to make friends but suffered from shyness. Her doctor suggested she use corny chat-up lines as a solution, (more research required here, it was slightly difficult to find lines with a G-rating but I managed three), and voila, we introduced Jeepers Creepers Where'd You Get Those Peepers? We had a slight glitch with this routine, somehow the kids lined up in a different order than usual and I only noticed this after the song had started. Luckily we hadn't gone too far so I was able to signal Nell to cut the music, rearrange the children and start again. It was very sweet actually.
The next patient needed help with exhaustion caused by over-scheduling; ie an abundance of extra-curricular activities (basketball, gymnastics, music lessons and *heavy eye roll* dance classes). So the doctor sent her on holiday, a Swingin' Safari to be precise. Don't forget your binoculars!
The fifth routine was trickier to thread into the narrative, being as it was a song from a Disney movie about two humans turned into frogs by an evil witchdoctor who were lost in a bayou with a trumpet-playing crocodile, singing about what they'd do when they were human. It only makes sense within its own movie, but it's such a good song to dance to! So the sketch consisted almost entirely of Doctor Doctor jokes until at the end the patient explained the above situation to the doctor, who told her the answer would almost certainly involve kissing (I'm not kissing anyone!), and the dancing started.
Cherub's class were next on, and their song was the hardest to fit in with the theme. To what childhood problem could My Baby Just Cares For Me be the answer? Don't tell me if you think of something, it's too late now. In the end I gave the patient a non-specific illness. There was something wrong with her but she didn't know what, so the doctor prescribed tap-dancing to Nina Simone as a proven cure-all. Frankly I'm surprised more doctors don't suggest this. The Groover class once more made excellent use of tap-plates on their hands as well as their feet. (Copyright Miss Caroline 2013)
Here is a picture that shows you the set-up of the stage. The Consulting Room was off to one side so the dancers could be set on stage in readiness for the music to start. It was wonderful how well this worked, thanks in large part to Nell wrangling them side of stage (Shufflers on, keep left, Gliders off, keep right etc). I stood on another little board on the left hand side of stage for
tap-dancing / keeping the beat help, and found to my pleasure that I was
barely needed for the senior classes' routines. So
relaxing! In this scene below, Cherub is playing a laconic dude who is sick of grown-ups asking him what he wants to be when he grows up, so the Doctor's advice was for him to tell the Grown-ups It Ain't What You Do, It's The Way That You Do It. We filled it full of like-speak (LOL, like, totally, like, awesome) for extra gags.
I was very,very proud of this routine and proud of the kids performing in it. Stars.
We had a little break from dancing while I made a speech, thanking [almost] everyone. Tragically I forgot to thank my dear friend Jenny for her help, particularly for making the gorgeous Doctor Is [IN] booth but she insisted later that she prefers not to be put to the blush in public. And then it was time for the combined Christmas routines. The clever Tapsters and Groovers were highly professional with their song (Cool Yule), maintaining their different parts when necessary. They looked very slick.
And then came Here Comes Santa Claus featuring all 4 junior classes on stage, each group doing a class solo plus some all-together-now choreography. I'm surprised my brain didn't explode putting this one together, but it did actually come off quite nicely, considering their first go of doing it with all the other groups had been earlier that morning. The video footage will show me bolting across the front of stage to physically collect the Tiny Tappers for their cue, as standing on the opposite side of stage beckoning and calling them was completely ineffective. Bless them.
So there you have it. Tapping and a storyline. Not so low-key as all that then. People kept coming up to me afterwards telling me what a good show it was. It felt like a triumph. I was so, so proud of those kids. My goodness, what a lot of gorgeous right there.
I really, really do love my job.
(Adults Concert tomorrow night! Then I'm starting my Christmas preparations. Eek!)
NB. All photos featuring the children are now classified as "private" on Flickr and can only be seen by my Contacts (that is, if you click through to Flickr for a better look at them). If I know you or your blog I am happy to be friends with you on Flickr . Joining is free and easy, and you can store up to 200 photos there.