Having seen several theatrical productions in some of the world’s greatest venues with some of the best professional entertainers, I muse that some of the local shows performed by middle school and high school students have given me some of my best moments of pleasure.
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.” performed last weekend at Lawrence Jones Middle School ranks high in my theater experiences. Why? The stories behind the production enhanced this musical adventure. In this case, the titled character, Chitty, nearly stole the show.
Chitty’s picture tells the story. In a school production, we expect some lightweight cardboard prop to represent the flying car. Ken Zschach, acknowledged by his wife, Director Jill Zschach “for putting so much time and work into our productions and always exceeding my expectations,” created such a beautiful wooden car that it should be dispatched to the Smithsonian immediately after closing night.
Behind the scenes, Ken collected donations at the entrance. During the performance, he manned the door and kept an eye on the energetic audience. Meanwhile, Jill fluttered around the theater making sure that all was in order with the players. She gave a cheery introduction to the audience before the opening curtain, updated events during intermission and led the performers and support staff in acknowledgments during the curtain call.
For two and a half hours, the Lawrence Jones Theater, packed with energy and excitement, created lifetime memories for performers, volunteers and the audience. Chitty, the wooden car, represents the commitment for excellence invested by the Zschach’s and the many assistants and the hard work of the student performers. In the larger perspective, it reminds us of all of the coaches, advisors, and volunteers who make so many great extra-curricular events so successful in this school district.