Hark! A school Christmas program! The backstage preparation, nerves and madness revealed
It’s opening night, an hour before curtain-up, and the performers just received word the auditorium’s sold out. “I’ve done things like this before,” 11-year-old Liam said, “so it’s fine.” Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
It’s opening night, an hour before curtain-up, and the performers just received word the auditorium’s sold out.
“I’ve done things like this before,” 11-year-old Liam said, “so it’s fine.”
Thankfully, Liam and his 400 K-12 schoolmates considered themselves professionals.
“Ehhh, no,” 8-year-old Erika said. “Not really.”
Erika only worried her blood sugar might get a little low. She’s diabetic and low bloodsugar would mean she needed to duck backstage and test herself.
All over the world this time of year, schools and classes and after-school groups filled with kids just like Erika and Liam ready for that most cherished of rituals: the holiday program.
Most of us have already seen some version of this show – the singing, the adorable outfits, the littlest ones missing their cues. But Meridian’s Ambrose Christian School let us backstage so we could witness the preparation, nerves and madness that make this tradition possible.
So, 30 minutes before Friday's show, the orchestra began its tune-up while Liam and his troupe wound down outside the auditorium with the cardgame Apples to Apples.
The older kids may have claimed total calm – and their preparation did indicate a certain professionalism – but let us not forget the wildcard of the holiday show: kindergarten.
“They’ll be fine,” Liam said. “They’ve been directed well. So, I’m not nervous for them.”
But Friday also marked Liam’s first Christmas program. High school veterans of the show, likely remembering their early years, showed a little less faith in the act’s youngest performers.
“It’ll be interesting,” ninth-grader Reagan Good said. “We’ll see. Usually there’s a few who sing a little loud.”
“Does anybody else really have to go the bathroom?” a teacher asked a backstage roomfull of kindergarteners.
Hands flew up all around that room as 1,500 parents, friends and community members – if not talent scouts anxious to discover Liam – took their seats in the auditorium.
“We’ve put a lot of work into this,” Liam said. "There are so many kids performing and so many different things going on.”
Ambrose students began practicing for this Christmas program on the first day of school in September, when they walked into music class and received sheet music for Christmas carols.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, the lights in Northwest Nazarene University's Brandt Center dimmed to near darkness.
“I think it's really important to give everybody a rest,” Erika said, “and tell them what the true meaning of Christmas is.”
When the lights came back up, they revealed the source of the overture and signified the beginning of the Ambrose School’s ninth-annual Christmas program.