Childhood Family

The show must go on. And on. And on.

If you’ve ever had seven teenagers having a sleepover at your house, you know that your house will immediately become the loudest one on the block.

If all seven teenagers are super duper into Broadway musicals, you may very well have the loudest house in the county.

Now before you think I’m being cranky old dad barking about these kids today, I assure you I’m not. I found it quite entertaining, even if carried on long after I went to be and picked up long before I woke up.

And the best part about my daughter having said sleepover — it was a complete surprise to her.

We moved to Charleston back in August. One of the toughest things my daughter left behind was her theater family. They still keep in constant touch through Facebook and about 60 other social media things I don’t use. But it was still tough to leave behind the kids with whom you’d grown up with, on and off stage.

Fortunately, she quickly got involved in theater in our new home, and she has made some great new friends. But her first theater family is still a tight-knit group. And it certainly made our day when we found out they were conspiring and planning a covert trip to see my daughter in her high school performance of “Seussical.”

We kept the secret from her quite well, mainly my not sharing it with her 11-year-old brother, who would have no doubt spilled the beans. The kids even did some great misdirection, going so far as sending her a text message a few hours before the show telling her to break a leg and saying they were sorry they couldn’t be there. Well acted, youngsters.

When the curtain went up, the seven kids and two theater moms were scattered throughout the audience.

My wife was helping backstage. After one scene, Allie found her mother. “Mom, I think I saw Bryson out there,” she said, a little confused.

Next scene: “Did I see Katelyn?” One by one she started finding them in the audience. Elora. Nathan. Ellie. Caroline. Her buddies were all out there.

My wife said her smile got as big as could be. My wife kept her focused. “Surprise! Now get your show face on.”

She was thrilled to be reunited with her hometown crew after the show, and excited to show them her new theater stomping grounds.

When the kids got back the house, they entered as any group of theater kids do: Belting out Broadway songs, starting with a jaunty number from “Bonnie and Clyde.” After about five hours, I am pretty sure that most every upbeat number ever sung on Broadway had been sung at least 14 times.

My daughter had a permagrin on her face the whole time, absolutely stunned and thrilled and wowed that her buddies had delivered such a surprise. And I think bonus points go to my son, who at no point in time did anything so little brotherly egregious that his sister demanded he be mailed to Borneo. Pesky? Maybe a few times. But Borneo-worthy? Nope.

When bedtime finally rolled around, my downstairs turned into a refugee camp, with kids and parents alike spread out in sleeping bags on couches and the floor. It is during such times I still marvel that teens will text someone who is literally less than a foot away from them.

The next morning, they awoke early and were up and ready to roll in no time. I remember a time when I could spring out of bed and get rolling without so much as thinking about a cup of coffee.

We spent the morning visiting the beach and then strolling through downtown Charleston. As we went into one store, I remarked to one of the theater moms that we were really lucky to have a gaggle of kids like this — polite, respectful, courteous. When the biggest knock you’ve got on your kid and her friends are that they sometimes sing show tunes a little loud, you’ve got some good problems.

In all, it was a fantastic weekend, one that will certainly go down in the books as one of the tops for my daughter. And for my son, who avoided being mailed away by his sister.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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