The Wild Life: We’re off to see The Wizard …

2013-08-27 15:03

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Dramatix (7) waves the school newsletter under my nose one evening. The school is putting on The Wizard of Oz and she’s in two minds about auditioning.

Now I know that this is something she’s good at. Not sport. I am in no danger of being a parent to an Olympian, which is very good news. For me.

As many working mothers know, there are not enough hours in the day to ensure that there are groceries in the cupboard and milk in the fridge – let alone time to attend sports matches.

Dramatix comes home with top marks for everything, but has failed PE every term. Frankly, I couldn’t be prouder. She’s a chip off the old block as far as that’s concerned. My high school drama teacher forced me to try out for the hurdles just so he could laugh.

But back to The Wiz. I insist she audition. Which part would she like? (She’s seen the movie countless times) Dorothy.

Uh, Grade 2s will get to be Munchkins, surely. Not good enough.

“I will only do something elegant like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty!” she fumes, and starts wailing after Romantix (5) calls her a “whinge bucket”.

Time to call in the big guns. Enter Gay Aunt, a seasoned theatre professional, who explains to his niece that everyone starts in the chorus, and convinces her to have a go. So off she trots to audition for a part as one of the lullaby league – which she gets.

But that was the easy part.

Parenting a child through months of rehearsals is not thrilling, and Dramatix begged to quit on a weekly basis. Until she saw her costume.

For Dramatix, like many little girls, it’s all about pink, sparkly and frilly – despite my best efforts to encourage gender-neutral colours and practical clothing. Not for her the green, felt Munchkin costume, but a frilly, deep-pink, glittery dress with matching jacket and a sparkly silver bow.

The exhausted-looking mother who’d been roped into making them said Dramatix hugged her five times after she tried it on.

“It’s perfect! Perfect!” she reportedly gushed. “I am going to talk about it for THREE DAYS!”

She was then committed to the production and, as it turned out, so was I.

The teacher in charge wanted the show’s best-known tune, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, to be arranged for three voices. I was a musician in what now feels like a distant, past life and offered to do this. But it didn’t end there.

Then it turned out that the Munchkins were confused and couldn’t follow backing tracks. They also couldn’t sing while their legs were moving. Could I possibly accompany them on the piano?

Erm, okay.

But there are also songs for the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man, and the Lion ... could you do the whole lot?

So with three weeks to go till opening night, I had the entire score to learn.

Romantix was so desperate for a bit of attention that, during a gruelling practice session at home one night, he fell asleep under the piano stool clutching my leg.

Primary school productions nowadays aren’t the same as when we were at school – a one-night affair with parents and gushing grannies in the audience. Oh no. This lot had a six-performance, week-long run, with visiting dignitaries and special effects.

I skived off work for rehearsals and ducked early for shows. Thankfully, I wasn’t fired.

Attention-deprived Romantix enjoyed the show enormously. He went as the date of my dear friend, City Press news editor Natasha Joseph, one evening. He (very considerately) narrated the entire show to her. He patted her reassuringly on the shoulder while saying: “Dont worry Auntie Tash, they do get a brain and a heart”, and “The witch is very scary Auntie Tash, but if you get scared you can huggle me”.

Gay Aunt couldn’t come as he was working out of town.

“What?! He’s not coming?” demanded Dramatix. “But he got me into this!”

Happily, Gay Aunt’s husband was there and came to see her after the show.

“How are you?” he asked after hugs.

“I’m awesome!” she responded.

After the final performance, I was called on to stage and handed a big bunch of flowers – and looked down to see Dramatix’s beaming face.

“You were on stage Mummy!” she said. “I was so proud!”

And in that instant it was all worth it.

As other mothers with careers know, we haven’t the time to help out at the tuck shop, be a class mum, or sit on the PTA.

But I was so glad I could at least do this for her. And that the little I could do counted.

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