In Jill's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

My Photo
Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oliver Top Fives

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about my preparations for the spring musical at my school. I am happy to say that it happened, it was successful, and it remained drama-free. (I'm still convinced it is because boys made up the majority of the cast.)

Anyone who has been on stage is familiar with the pre-show pressure of theater. And anyone who has been on the stage knows theater people thrive on this. I love it, even at my elementary level productions.

This time, the pre-show adrenaline rush consisted of convincing almost one hundred girls to pull pioneer skirts up to their natural waists. They attempted to wear the skirts like modern day clothing, around their hips. Then they would tie their aprons higher, at their waists, causing the skirts to fall down.

"You know, women used to wear their skirts above their belly buttons," I told the girls.
"That feels weird."

"They wore things that felt a lot weirder than that in Victorian England," I said.

My parent volunteers and I also gave several kids a course in Clothes Hanging 101. One boy never quite caught on.

"Why aren't your clothes on the hangers?" I asked him at the end of a performance.

"They are."

"This is the strangest hanging job I've ever seen."

I'd hate to see what some of these kids' closets look like.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the performance this week.

1. Runaway Hair
During the morning performance, the little boy playing the villain lost his chest hair when he was carted off by the police. Yes, we taped fake chest hair to this child, who was also wearing a muscle shirt. (His idea, by the way.) At the end of the afternoon show, he ripped the hair off on purpose and swung it over his head. The audience went wild.

Another boy also lost his mustache during his scene, and it got stuck to the locket he was holding. I grabbed the mustache about the same time we both realized he had forgotten to bring the fake money he was supposed to throw on the ground.

"Throw the money," I whispered to him.

"I can't!" he said through gritted teeth. "I forgot it!"

"Someone pass him some money," I whispered to the people backstage.

All of a sudden, Oliver (who had just been kidnapped in the previous scene) sneaked up on stage and handed him some money. Gotta love live theater!

2. Just One More Day
The day after the play, I was greeted by a classroom teacher telling me she wished the kids could have one more day of performances. The kids always echo this sentiment, but I would think classroom teachers would want the schedule to return to normal.

One of our custodians found me in my classroom, excited that she had been rushed by a bunch of kids, chattering on and on about the play.

"They were so excited, even the next day!" she told me. "That means it was a huge success!"

3. One Thing I Liked
In class the morning after, I asked my fifth and sixth grade students to write down at least one thing they liked about the musical. More than one student said they liked putting on stage makeup that made them look dirty.

4. Compliment Someone
I also asked the students to compliment one person in the show. Several of them chose to compliment me instead of one of the cast members.

"But you're the ones who put it on, not me," I said. "I just helped put it together. It was your show, not mine."

5. Oops
Apparently, we were using a Crown Royal bag as a coin purse. Whiskey's not my thing, and since a ten-year-old brought it in for us to use in the play, I didn't bother to read what was printed on it.

I didn't realize until a teacher pointed it out in a fit of laughter the next day.

"Well, that would have been quite a catch for the pickpockets," another teacher said. "Crown Royal is pretty elite."

For the latest blog updates, visit and "like" Rebecca Turner-Duggan.