Today I am writing my personal/business narrative as an exercise that will hopefully help me make clear some of the decisions I need to make in the near future. As I was writing, I remembered these blog posts. None of them have been edited or altered since the day that they were written.
Miracles DO happen, my friends. The show is a complete hit thanks to the effort and creativity of everyone involved. We have I think 12 shows left in an 85-show Bandito season and every single audience has gone away having had a significant, entertaining experience. I know the Bandito style of fun isn't for everyone, but it hits home with a lot of people who see the world like I do. I'm so grateful for this experience and the adventure that Juanito Bandito has created for me and my family.
We have dealt with a couple of challenges this summer within our cast that we've never had to deal with in the past, but through it all I have been so happy with each person for the way in which they've come each day to do the very best job possible because they love their craft and they know how to love the people in the seats. This, for me, is the most vital thing for the success of a show like this one. You have to be willing to LOVE the people in the seats. No matter how tired you are or how much it feels like twilight zone time as you do the same thing and say the same words to the same person wearing the same costume in the same space for the 10th time this week and 3rd time today, you have to dig deep and do a great job because you love the people out there in the darkness. You do it in part because you love the craft, in even larger part because you love your fellow cast member, and most of all because you love the people in the audience. If I have a secret to let out about how to make an awesome show, that's it.
I don't think it would be beneficial here to go into any specifics but I feel I have grown more this summer than any of the previous summers as a creative person and as a leader. I've learned about having the ability to love and work closely with a person even when you strongly disagree with them in some particular offstage matter. I've also learned a bit about how life offstage can have a big impact on what happens onstage in our particular brand of entertainment. I've learned that you should always be confident in your own abilities and expect to be respected and appreciated by those that you ask to be a part of the awesome project you work on. Just because you rely on a person for the success of your product does not mean that they have some intangible upper hand in the relationship. Everyone is replaceable, even me. I've learned that it's important to be up front and clear in any type of negotiation situation, especially at the beginning of a creative project. Don't speak vaguely, be specific about your expectations and ask clarifying questions to make sure everything is understood. Get it written down.
I've learned that in our hiring process we should take as much time as needed to get a really good feeling about asking a person to join on. I'm not saying that any mistakes were made this year (on the contrary, I'm so glad that Heaven helped us find all of the right people and that they're such amazing people), but I am saying that the hiring process should not be a 5-minute song, reading some lines and a couple questions about your background in theatre. It's an idea expressed in Dave Ramsey's Entreleadership: you should not make it an easy thing to be hired into your company if your company is awesome. People should appreciate the privilege to work on something so fun and wholesome and fulfilling. Having an extra interview or callback or two will help them appreciate the opportunity they're being presented. That can have a big impact once things get hairy.
Okay, but back to the point of these posts ... the miracle happened. How? I'm not sure, but I used an old song ("I know you", which is probably my favorite song I've ever written), I gave lyrics and a song idea to Jay Richards to create and arrange ("Go for it", on which he did an amazing job. Man, I was lucky that he had time and was willing to hook a brother up last minute - Rosa literally got the sheet music 1 week before showtime and didn't hear the final track until 2 days before opening), and then I pulled a few rabbits out of the hat with the help of years of experience in last-minute songwriting and a whole lot of help from Above. The script was finished up in the end mostly thanks to Derek (also Andy at a few of the late-night sessions - one of which spawned the "Happy Sultan" idea which is by far the craziest, most memorable section of the show) Earlier input via skype came from Jordan and Tony as well. The show was improved in rehearsals thanks to everyone's creative effort and then taken over the top during the course of the run thanks to the geniuses who bring the thing to life each day (Jordan, Rosa, Tony, Braden, Ray, Kenz, Taralee, Thomas, Josh, Mark, James, I'm talking to you). I cannot give enough credit to each of these people for their talent, effort and love.
I know I'm beating a dead horse here but this was quite incredible. To go from "April 1: nothing" to, "June 12th: amazing" was the biggest turn around I've ever been a part of. A week and a half before opening, we had a very serious talk about postponing the opening for a couple of weeks in order to get all of the songs finished. I was putting in more hours of continuous effort in writing, rehearsing, marketing, etc than i have ever put in. And that's saying something because we've had some close calls in the past as well.
I'll likely write more in the coming weeks and maybe give more details about how things went down. I just felt like I needed to put the period on this series of posts although I don't think anyone has read any of these except for me. Maybe one day they will ... also maybe not. I'm not sure how I would feel about someone from our inner circle or from our fanbase reading these.
Miracles. Do. Happen. ... with a lot of hard work, talent and determination:)