- Make a schedule but… With only five days to put up everything, I knew every minute was precious. We made a daily schedule of what we needed to get through each day, but by the afternoon of the first day were already behind. The point is, we all had to be flexible. Rec time turned into rehearsal time and lunch hours were cut short. We If your schedule gets changed, don’t panic.
- Divide and conquer… After the first day, I knew we needed a better strategy to get things done. Our choir spent a long time on stage waiting on other people. Thankfully, we had plenty of leaders who were ready to help. We sent the choir off to another room to practice their parts and have rec time. This gave us more stage time with the leads and dancers. We got so much more done we got back on schedule and the choir kids? They had a blast! They really got to know their leaders and burn off some extra energy in the summer sunshine. Win-win!
- Give everyone a moment… Not every kid who auditions gets a solo or a lead role. This usually means they stand on the risers for the whole show. It was important to me to give every kid a moment on stage so they could experience the joy of performing. So during each song, we pulled kids out for special roles. We had kids who held signs, kids who waved blue fabric for water, and kids who did simple choreography or passed out props. It was a small thing but it made everyone a part of the show in a big way.
- Get out of the way… It was Friday afternoon, and we had just a few hours till the room would be filled with proud parents ready to see their little angels. We still hadn’t done a complete run of the show. I was barking out orders, trying desperately to instruct the stage crew what to bring on and when. The kids were talking and it was chaos. It was so bad, I snuck off the stage and hid behind a curtain. Then it hit me. The kids weren’t the problem. I was. I had already told everyone what to do. I just needed to trust them and let them do it. So I mustered my courage and went back out. “You’re going to run the show,” I said, “and I’m not going to stop you!” It was amazing. They all worked together and made it happen. I was so proud of everyone and to think, it wouldn’t have happened if I’d tried to control everything. I think a director has to know when to let go.
- Remember why you’re there… One of the main characters was struggling with her part. I started to panic. What if she forgets a line? What if she ruins the show? What if we go down in flames and the church never asks me to direct again? I was really being selfish, only thinking about how her performance affected me. Then I was reminded of something by one of our volunteers. She’s just a kid. She’s trying her hardest and my worrying wasn’t going to make anything better. If she dropped a line in the show we’d just tell her what it was. If she had trouble with the song we’d have a volunteer sing it with her. We weren’t here for absolute perfection. We were here to love on these kids and encourage them—to pour God into their lives and remind them that even if you mess up, your Heavenly Father loves you, no matter what. In the end, that little girl did an amazing job. I was blown away, but most of all, I was thankful for a great week. God truly took our efforts and multiplied him. I know He planted His word deep in those young hearts and that made everything worth it.
Jonathan Hickey is a husband, father, and Creative Arts Director for First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL, and can be followed on Twitter @jhickez