You probably have heard me talking about 'In The Heights,' the annual spring musical at my girls' high school. You may have seen me mention it on Facebook, or on Twitter, or on Instagram – or maybe I walked up to you at Costco, rammed your cart and ordered you to come to the show. If that was you I'm really sorry I made you drop your baby.
But the show was really that good, and I wanted people to see how talented these kids are, how hard they work and what an incredibly professional production the school put on. It's not your average high school show – and believe me I know. Back when my high school put on The Wiz, the backdrop consisted of a huge piece of butcher paper that the freshman art class stenciled with poster paint. I remember Dorothy was wearing a blue apron over a tube top and kept reaching behind her to adjust her gym shorts.
So you can see why I wanted everyone to see the caliber of the show Hollywood High put on. And apparently other people thought this show was pretty awesome too, because Sunday night the show won Best High School Musical at the Jerry Herman Awards at the Pantages Theater.
'In The Heights' beat out 22 other productions from high schools all over Southern California to take the top prize, and it was presented by Kenny Ortega, the producer/director/choreographer of the mothership of high school theater - Disney's High School Musical movies. It was like having Spock escort you into a Star Trek screening.
I know everyone always says, "I had no idea I was going to win," whenever they accept a prize, but in this case we really, truly had no idea we were going to win. Because did I mention we had no idea the show was even nominated? All along we'd thought that because 'In The Heights' took place so late in the year that the show wasn't included in the judging. Hollywood High wasn't even mentioned in the video montage that opened up the night's festivities that features all the participating schools.
(I totally compared it to the feeling you get when you're watching that TLC show about women who don't know they're pregnant and then give birth. You know what I'm talking about. One minute they're standing in line at Starbucks and in the next scene they're walking out of the bathroom with a baby and you're screaming at the TV, "Holy crap you were just ordering a Frappuccino and NOW YOU'VE GIVEN LIFE.")
The award is so fantastic, of course, and so very much deserved. But even more satisfying is seeing the school and these kids get the recognition they've had coming for a long time. So many negative things have been said about public schools – especially those like ours that don't have the wealthy demographic or resources that other schools have.
Another win? A chance to see these kids showing such a positive side of teenagers – that much maligned segment of the population. This group of talented students have been working non-stop for the past few weeks - after school and into the night and even on weekends - while still keeping up with their regular classes (all performers must keep up their GPAs in order to participate in the production.) Like the sets you see in the picture above? They were all built by the kids. That's right – my daughter learned how to use a power saw after geometry, people.
But don't take my word for it – come on out and see one of their productions one day. Not only will you be supporting Hollywood High, but you'll be encouraging public schools everywhere to support their teachers and nurture their arts programs and most important of all – show some faith in our teenagers.
Don't make me come over there and ram your cart.
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