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Last night, Ben and I had the thrill of watching our younger child up on stage, as she danced and sang her way through “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” as a member of the Ensemble in Lexington High School’s very fine production of the Rupert Holmes musical.  It was a terrific show (yes, a little too long, and the sets and costumes could have been better, but still, it was very, very good for a high school production), thanks in large measure to the excellent direction of Steven Bogart, the talented drama teacher who retires from LHS this year.  The vocal coaching of Jason Ianuzzi was impressive, and Jeff Leonard, who now runs the performing arts program in the Lexington school system, did his usual terrific job of both directing the orchestra and holding the onstage orchestral/vocals together.

The fact that Abby had auditioned for the show at all was amazing:  as a timid child who has spent her growing years struggling with how to find the courage to try new things, she gave the audition her all and found herself with a part in the show’s Ensemble — which was, she said, her goal.  She learned dance steps, even though she has always shied away from dance lessons.  She learned new music.  She practiced her acting skills, which are better than she gives herself credit for.  She made many new friends, and discovered why Steve Bogart is a legend at Lexington High School.  It has been a blast.

Last night, she told us that, before the cast went on stage, Jeff Leonard shared an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” on work:

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing,
you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

The poem, Leonard said, had been used by Bogart’s predecessor, Mr. DiDomenico, as the final ‘blessing’ of the cast and crew on opening night, for each show.  Those who followed DiDomenico, including Bogart and Leonard, have continued the tradition for the last four decades.  45 years ago, when Mr. DiDomenico was the drama teacher, a high school student named Ben Soule was in the shows that were on the Lexington High School Stage:  “Oliver,” “Camelot,” “South Pacific.”  Around the same time, Deb Weiner was on stage or back stage at Hamden High School in Connecticut, in dramas like “Ring Round the Moon,”  “Antigone,” and “Under Milk Wood.”  And, in her own time at Lexington High 12 years ago, Emily Soule was back stage at Lexington High School working on “Into the Woods,” making scenery and running set changes.  The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The thrill of working on a show is magical.  That Abby is now enjoying this beautiful ride, and in doing so, discovering more about herself as she enters the last 13 months of her high school experience, is marvelous.  That she is blessed, not only with good friends but with dedicated and talented teachers to guide her, is a gift beyond measure.  This work is love made visible, and it showers love on us all.

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