Thanks to Alan Swanson for his fine song and help with this chapter.
Requiescat in pace, Ms. Pauline.
Gary Scott had reviewed the manuscript of Jake and Rachel's play and he had sent a very positive email back to them. The play was about a young boy that lived on the streets because his mother overdosed and died. He never knew his father and the boy had fled when the Children's Aid were called after the mother's death was discovered. The boy was surviving on the streets with the help of a couple of friends that had taken him under their wing. The friends were older than him and spent some time at a drop-in shelter when things got difficult for them. The young boy had managed to stay away, fearful that the system would find him and put him in a home. The friends were trying to encourage him to go to the shelter and get help, but he was confused and distrusting of the system.
There were some things in the play that Jake had consulted Sean about, which had brought back some unpleasant memories. But, we were pleased that Sean had come to terms with his past and he was able to handle things very well.
We had our initial meeting with Gary Scott at his studio and he was very complimentary to them for their writing. He was impressed with the realism in their text which we didn't elaborate on, since Sean was present. Sean was in attendance because he was going to be involved in the production, but we weren't sure how at this point.
"I've used some scriptwriters in the past that couldn't do much better than you two have done," he said.
They were beaming from ear-to-ear. Even though Gary's company's focus was on film and TV, he had had experience in the past with stage productions. During the course of the meeting Gary made some suggestions, which we were all very grateful for, but one stood out as being the best one.
"I think this would make a great musical if you could harness the resources that would be necessary," he said.
"I don't know if we could write a lot of music. None of us, except Stéphane, really knows anything about composing," Sean said.
"You wouldn't have to. You could use existing songs that fit the various scenes," Gary replied. "I can think of a few that would fit very nicely."
The boys and Rachel looked at each other as Gary had provided a key 'aha' moment for them.
"I think we have an abundance of resources to pull that off," I said, with a big smile.
In the next ten minutes, Gary got quite an education of what I meant. He had no idea what talent existed in the family and with the kids' friends. The boys and Rachel were hurling ideas back and forth at each other and Gary was bewildered.
"Maybe we should give Mr. Scott a chance to speak. After all, he's the expert," I finally said, with a smile.
"My goodness. I think my role has just taken a drastic turn in a good way. I had no idea about your backgrounds and the connections you have," he said, to the kids.
"We also want to involve as many kids at the shelter as we can," Jake said.
"There are a couple of kids that were in the community theatre production last year that could have major parts in it," Sean added.
They thought that Vikram and Jenny could be the two friends in the production. I was a little skeptical they could manage it, but the boys were still in contact with them from their work at the shelter.
"We can teach them," Sean said. "They can handle it."
After about twenty minutes of Gary's help the kids had a framework to work with. Gary was going to set up another meeting with one of his directors to give the kids some help turning the play into a musical. Gary wasn't as involved with directing any more, as he had a couple of people that he used for that.
"One of the tough parts will be to get a young boy to take the lead in this," he said.
The kids smiled and Sean said, "That's one of the easier parts. We were going to try and get this boy from the shelter, who's about fifteen like the kid in the play, but we have someone else in mind. Jake and Rachel just have to do some re-writing to make it a younger kid."
Gary suggested that we think of who should take certain production roles besides Jake and Rachel, who were going to be the co-directors with Sean as the musical director. Somehow, I got designated as the producer, which basically meant I made sure the finances for this were in place and other 'duties' which were sure to occur.
"Dad's good at organizing and things," Jake told Gary.
"Well that's an ambitious project you boys are undertaking," Dana said to them when we got home and told her what had transpired in the meeting. "I hope this doesn't interfere with your schoolwork."
She was right in her concerns and we had a talk with them about what their priorities needed to be over the next few months.
"I know you two will keep things in perspective," I said.
Since Jake was going to be a co-director with Rachel, he was designated as the person to call Susan and John that evening to ask permission for Garth to be in the play and also if Glen could lend his talents to the production. They were supportive, as they were with all of Glen and Garth's activities, but they knew it would be a big undertaking, from the experience of 'Oliver'. They were a little hesitant, because they had the same concerns about school work suffering, particularly with Garth, but they agreed. Jake then talked to Glen and afterwards to Garth, who was excited.
"I explained what the play was about and his role and I'm sure he'll have lots of ideas that he'll share with us tomorrow after school," Jake said, with a big smile.
The next day, Garth was a little subdued when he came into the kitchen after he arrived from the school bus. This had been report card day and the boys were hoping that there were positive results, however things didn't look too encouraging.
"Oh, oh. Does this mean your report card wasn't too good?" Jake asked.
We didn't ask to see it, because we felt that Susan and John should be the first ones to have that honour and Garth wasn't too anxious to show us. It must not have been very good, because he didn't even want to tell a joke. That night, Dana called Susan to see how bad it was.
"Susan said that the marks were just Ok, but Garth's teacher's comments about his attentiveness weren't," Dana said, after the call.
Garth was definitely underachieving and his teacher said that he wasn't always paying attention. He was constantly entertaining his classmates when he should've been concentrating on his school work. He wasn't a strong student in Literacy and this mark was one of the lowest he had had since he had been part of the family. His Math mark, which was one of his strongest subjects, was just ordinary.
"John and Susan are talking about getting a tutor," Dana added.
"Can't Glen tutor him? He's good in Math and quite capable of doing that," I said.
"Glen certainly is, but as much as he's very good with the art students he teaches at the art school, his brother seems to be good at exhausting his patience very quickly," she said.
She also added that John and Susan were seriously thinking of keeping him out of the musical production if things didn't improve. Sean and Jake had come into the kitchen and overheard the last part.
"We need Garth in the production," Sean said, with a very concerned look.
"His school work comes first, just like with you guys," I said.
"What if Jake and I tutor him after school. He's here every night."
Both Dana and I thought that was a good idea and it would be beneficial for both the boys and Garth. We would also be around to monitor the happenings and help steer things in the right direction, if needed. I called Susan and John and they were in agreement to try this plan for a couple of weeks to see how things worked out.
"You will definitely know Garth well, when this is all over," Dana said.
"You're going to learn what patience really means," I said, as Dana and I gave them big smiles.
The next day after school, Garth was in much better humour and he had to tell us a couple of short 'knock knock' jokes, even before he had his snack.
"Knock, knock," he said, waiting for someone to say the next line.
"Is that it?" Jake said, teasing him.
"Nooo. You're supposed to say 'who's there'," he said, chuckling, as he grabbed a muffin.
"Ok. Who's there?" Sean asked.
"Duane. And now you're supposed to say 'Duane who'," he said with a smile, trying to be helpful.
Glen piped in and said, "Duane who?"
"Duane the bathtub, I'm drowning," he said, followed by a short giggle.
He hardly took a breath and started into the next one.
No one answered and so he prompted us again.
"It's just like the last joke. You have to say 'who's there'," he said.
"Is this the last joke?" Glen asked.
He shook his head yes and was waiting for one of us to speak.
"Alright, we've got to get started on your tutoring, so 'who's there'," Jake said.
We responded properly to his satisfaction and finally we got to the punch line.
"Alex the questions around here," he said, as he broke into a full scale laugh, as we all groaned.
"Good luck, guys," Glen said to Sean and Jake, as he left with Dana, who was driving him to his art school class.
Sean took the first shift and helped him with his math and Jake finished up helping him with his literacy homework. I was able to watch what was going on as I periodically popped into the den where they were working. Both Sean and Jake did an excellent job at keeping him focussed and I was confident that this was going to work. Garth had above average intelligence and what they were really going to have to work on was keeping him on task.
"That was very impressive, boys," I said, at dinner.
"You know, Garth's smart. We just need to keep him focussed on the work," Sean said.
"Yeah. He has a real short attention span," Jake added, as the two boys smiled.
"Yes, that can be a real problem," Dana said, as she smiled at the boys.
I knew that her comment wasn't just aimed at Garth.
That evening after dinner, a call came in and as usual, one of the boys got it first. Dana and I usually didn't answer the phone when the boys were home, since we knew most of the time the calls were for them. However, Sean got this one and yelled from his room after a couple of minutes that it was for me.
"Why can't those boys just get up and walk to the hall," Dana said. "This isn't the hockey rink."
When I took the phone, I was surprised at who was on the other end.
"Hello, Mr. Burger. It's Carson speaking."
I was struck at how far he had come, even though he still had a bit of a difficult time talking to adults. I thought back to the time I first met him and I was the last person he wanted to talk to.
"Thank you for putting me in touch with your friend, Mr. Pelligano. He's really helped me figure some things out," he said.
He told me the details of their meeting and that Dan had suggested that he go through the OHL draft and wait to see when and in what round he was taken. He gave him lots of information and potential paths he could take and outlined his options. He also agreed to represent him, if there was a need.
"Are you and the guys busy the day of the draft?" he asked.
"Sounds like we are now," I said, with a chuckle.
"Maybe Mrs. Burger might want to come too, to keep my mom company," he added.
He wanted some friendly faces to be with him as he sat in the stands at the London arena, where the OHL draft was being held. Obviously Doreen, his mother, was going, but after that he really didn't have anyone else. His father wasn't around and he wouldn't have been invited if he had been. Dan was going to be there, but he was tied up with a couple of other boys who were going very high in the draft and would require his attention. I was flattered that he wanted me to be there with him and I knew the boys would be too. When I got off the phone and told the boys, they weren't surprised.
"He talked to us this week about it, but we told him he needed to ask you himself," Sean said.
Dana had now joined us and when she found out what we were talking about she assumed that she was going to go with us.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world. Besides, Doreen will need company with all that testosterone around her."
The next Saturday morning the boys, Rachel and Melissa had a meeting with the director that Gary had set up for us. His name was Thor Johansen and he had read the script and was going to give his perspective on how to convert it to a musical. Melissa was along because she was now the co-musical director for the production and she was once again staying with Rachel for the weekend. I wasn't going to ask what had transpired that led to Melissa's appointment, but it wasn't hard to guess what had happened. I was there as the producer in case I had to solve any money issues.
When we arrived at Gary Scott's office, Thor was in the meeting room waiting for us. He was about 35 years old with long sandy blond hair and a fashionable three day's growth of beard. He was dressed casually with his shirt out over his jeans and after introductions had been made, he got right down to business.
"I think you kids have a pretty good script here and I'm sure I can make it better," he said, with a smile.
For the next five minutes we listened to him as he basically changed the entire story around. I could see that this wasn't going over well with Rachel, as she had a furrowed brow and kept glancing at Jake. I also recognized from Jake's body language that he was about to unleash one of his missives, as Thor's changes weren't going over well with him, either. Sean also read Jake's body language and tried to defuse the situation.
"That's a lot of change, Mr. Johansen. I don't think we were prepared for this," he said, tactfully.
Thor then started to give them a couple of reasons why he was suggesting all those changes and he ended by saying, "We have a lot of work to do, so let's get started."
Jake had had enough and he said, "That's not what Rachel and I wrote."
Before Thor could respond, Jake regaled us for the next two minutes with his thoughts on what had been presented. He was respectful, but when he was finished, he had left no doubt about what he thought of the changes. He had also made a lot of sense and Thor wasn't too happy.
"Perhaps you need someone else for this," he said, as he packed up.
We just looked at each other as he exited and finally I asked, "Hmm. Do we have a plan B?"
Gary phoned later in the day to see how our meeting went and I filled him in on what had transpired.
"I thought something was wrong, because I came by the office when you guys should've been there and the meeting room was empty," he said.
He told me that Thor was a little temperamental and controlling and apologized, which I said wasn't necessary.
"I hope he didn't intimidate the kids too much."
"Don't worry about that. You don't know my son, Jake," I said, with a chuckle.
He said that he would mentor Jake and Rachel personally and give them some ideas on what they needed to do.
"I won't direct the musical, but I'll give them the tools to do it themselves," he said.
"I think that's what we had in mind," I said, as I smiled.
Despite the problem with Thor, things were falling into place pretty quickly. Gary brought me up-to-date with some things he had been working on.
"I decided to apply for some government funding and was successful."
He had contacts with an MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament), who was a former street kid, that got himself straightened away. The grants were called Creation Nation Grants, which were for arts projects on Canadian cultural or social issues. This would allow us to rent a local theatre for the production and cover the cost of the mics and sound equipment.
"I'll see if I can get a sound guy to do the production," Gary said.
"We've got that covered, as well. Garth's brother, Glen, can run the sound board."
"This really is a family affair," Gary said, chuckling.
The theatre was an old TV studio, which had shut down in the 70s, that was now owned by a local theatre group. It had a stage and had been outfitted with lighting, but the sound equipment was up to us to rent. Nothing was scheduled at the theatre until the summer, so it was free for rehearsals and the four performances we decided to have.
That wasn't all the good news we got. Ms. Pauline, Igor and his wife Irina offered to help with the choreography and Erin volunteered to be a vocal coach. Rachel and Jake's Theatre Arts teacher also was lending her expertise and support.
Glen had offered to design the set for the production and Jake had talked to him about what he wanted, which was very elaborate. Glen reined him in and told him he would try to come up with a good compromise. When the family was over on Sunday for dinner, Glen brought his computer to show Jake what he had come up with.
"I'm not an engineer, so nothing is remote controlled like you wanted," Glen said, with a big smile.
After he had run through his renderings Jake was satisfied.
"And, it's within budget," he said, as he looked at me and smiled.
There were three backdrops which were eight feet high and eight feet wide, with scenes painted on them. The first panel was an office scene, which was on the inside of the shelter. The second one was the facade of the shelter with the front door in the middle and the third panel was the alleyway where the young boy and his friends hung out. The panels were mounted on a large riser that had wheels on it that could be moved easily then locked into place. The apparatus just had to be turned to the appropriate panel according to the scene.
"Next Saturday a few of the kids from the shelter and some of my art students are going to paint the panels," Glen said.
He told us he was going to draw the outlines on the wood during the week and then it would be a matter of the kids using the outlines to paint the scenes. He would be there to supervise and make sure the correct colours were used according to the specs he had developed.
Gary was very good about giving his time and he had a session with Jake and Rachel one Sunday afternoon before the rehearsals with the cast started. He went over some of the principals of directing and gave them some specific ideas using their script.
"He was really easy to understand," Rachel said.
"He gave us lots of tips," Jake added.
This led to a pre-planning meeting at our house one Friday evening with Sean, Melissa, Jake, Rachel, Glen and his girlfriend of the month. It conveniently coincided with our theatre date with my Tim Horton's business partners and their wives.
"We know what you're going to say," Sean said, as we were getting ready to leave.
"We're going to be working on the play," Jake said, as the two of them smiled.
"I'm sure you'll find some time to take some careful breaks," Dana said, as she emphasized the word 'careful'.
"I didn't think this would be so stressful with boys when the hormones kicked in. I thought I was all finished with this after my girls grew up," I said, to Dana on the way to the theatre. She just smiled.
When we got home, Glen and his date were gone and the other two couples were in the media room talking, while the TV was on. The meeting and whatever extra-curricular activities took place afterwards, were over. Glen and his date apparently wanted more privacy and had left after the meeting. When we came into the room the four of them were in a deep discussion about a casting problem.
"You have to take that part," Melissa said. "There's no one else who can sing it like you can."
"You're only on stage for ten minutes, so you can still direct," Sean added.
Jake wanted someone from the shelter to take the part of the social worker at the end of the play, but the problem was they had to be a good singer. The character was going to sing Charlie Chaplin's 'Smile' to Garth at a key moment.
"Don't you guys think Jake should take the part?" Rachel asked Dana and me.
"We don't want to get in the middle of this. You four have to decide what's best for the production," Dana said.
When things finally wrapped up they had convinced Jake to take the part.
Finally things had progressed to the point where they were ready to have the first rehearsal, which was on a Saturday. The actors had been given their lines weeks ago and the band portion of the orchestra, which was Stéphane on keyboards, Sean on Guitar and Charles on drums, had been practising for a couple of weeks. Jake was not playing the bass, as they had a boy from the shelter, Jared Hill, who was taking over. He was a little flaky and had been late most times that they had been together for rehearsals.
Stéphane, with Melissa's help, had orchestrated three of the songs to include a string section, which included Sean on violin (when the guitar wasn't needed), Melissa on cello and Sandy, Mark Depew's partner, on viola. Stéphane had also been in contact with Mr. Swanson, the family friend in Amsterdam, who had composed a song for the musical.
"The song is called 'A Simple Song' and it's dedicated to a childhood friend of Mr. Swanson's, by the name of Peter Johnson," Sean said, as we were having breakfast before going to the theatre.
"When Stéphane told him about the story, he got inspired to write the song. Mr. Swanson's friend was in similar circumstances when he was going to school with him, when they were kids," Jake added.
This was going to be the first time we had heard any of the music, because the band had been practicing at the theatre, which was nearer to Jared's home.
"I hope Charles is Ok today," Jake added.
"What's the matter with Charles?" Dana asked.
"He's been moping around the last couple of days because Ronald got accepted to Waterloo University for next year," Sean said.
Ronald was a year older than the boys and he was graduating at the end of the year.
"I thought he was going to go to the university in the city nearby so he could live at home," I said.
"His first choice was the Health Sciences program at Waterloo," Jake added.
The last time Charles was at the house he had told us that Ronald was going to be around here next year, but apparently that was wishful thinking.
"He's also sad that they can't go to Ronald's Prom," Jake said.
Ronald and Charles had not come 'out' officially, even though many people suspected. Certainly their friends knew, so they thought it best that they wait until the next year when Charles graduated to make it known in town that they were a gay couple by going to Charles' prom dance.
"We're talking to Stéphane about something to make them feel better," Sean said.
We didn't get a chance to pursue that thought, because we needed to get going.
Gary had agreed to attend the first rehearsal to help Rachel and Jake if they needed it.
"I thought I would have to spend more time with Jake and Rachel, but they picked things up pretty quickly in that meeting I had with them. They have things under control," he said, after we arrived and the boys had gone off to get ready. "I'm just here to observe and lend a thought or two if needed."
Garth decided to start off the rehearsal with a long joke, since he had a larger audience than usual. Jake and Rachel wanted to get going, but somehow, Garth got his way.
"One dark and stormy night outside this town in Minnesota," he said, in his dramatic voice, "a fire started inside a chemical plant and then, boom, there was this big explosion."
He told us that the alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around. When they arrived, the president of the company rushed to the fire chiefs and told them that he would give $100,000 to the company that could get the secret formulas from the vault in the centre of the factory.
"But the fire was too big and they couldn't. Then they heard this siren and it was this Norwegian volunteer fire company with all these old guys over 65. They were in this real old fire truck and they roared by everybody and drove right into the middle of the fire and jumped off and put it out," he said.
"Oh oh, careful Garth," Sean said, as Jake and he looked at me.
"Dad's going to be 65 in September," Jake added.
Garth started to giggle and said "Oops," as he put his hand over his mouth.
The giggles didn't last too long and he continued. He then said that the president went over to the Norwegian fire chief and thanked him and told him he would give the $100,000 to his company. Then a TV reporter came over and interviewed the chief and asked what they were going to do with the money.
"So Ole Larsen, the old fire chief says, 'Vell, da first thing ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat old truck!'"
This was naturally followed by the requisite giggling, but this time everyone was laughing at his joke and delivery.
"Maybe I could be a Norwegian street kid in the musical," he said, as he looked at Jake.
"Don't even think about it, Garth," Jake said, as he rolled his eyes.
Gary had not met Garth before and he said, "So that's Garth. Now I know what Jake and Rachel were talking about. He's a real live-wire."
We had all gone to the first rehearsal at the theatre, including Dana who was helping with costumes and makeup. After we returned home and came in through the laundry room door, we expected to see our little white fluffy bundle of joy greet us at the door, however, Barney wasn't there.
"This makes me nervous. Where is that little beast?" Dana asked.
We walked into the kitchen calling Barney's name, but there still wasn't a response. The four of us fanned out throughout the house and finally we heard Jake yell from downstairs. Somehow Barney accidently got shut into the wine cellar and apparently it was Dana who had locked him in, which let the three of us off the hook, thank goodness.
When Dana, Sean and I came into the room, we saw that a wine bottle had been dislodged from a shelf and had broken on the floor. Barney was lying on his side and was sound asleep, even though quite a lot of noise had been made between Jake yelling to upstairs and us coming into the room.
"Why isn't there more wine on the floor?" Dana asked.
There was a little puddle of red wine underneath the overturned bottle, as the neck had broken when it fell. After a few seconds we understood why, as Barney finally awakened and got up gingerly, exposing his red moustache.
"Why is Barney bumping into the wall and shelving?" Sean asked, very concerned that he was sick.
"That's because he's drunk," I said.
After three hours at the after-hours emergency veterinarian clinic and $750.00 later, we were home with a somewhat sober dog.
"Well, at least he didn't knock over any of the expensive Cabernet Sauvignons," I said, trying to lighten Dana's mood.
"I swear that dog has Tasmanian devil blood in him," Dana said, as she looked at Barney with a disgusted look as he hunkered down in his dog bed.
Opening night was upon us and the usual jitters were compounded for Melissa and Sean. A half hour before curtain time, Jared, the Bass player wasn't there.
"You're going to have to play bass tonight, Dad," Sean said, as he and Melissa were in a flap.
I had filled in at one of the rehearsals when Jared failed to show, but I was not feeling too good about this new turn of events, especially since the bass was not an instrument I had much experience with. Sean finally pulled himself together and called Jared's home on his cell phone. We could tell by the conversation that the mother got the phone and Sean was being patient. When he got off the phone, the social worker from the shelter, that was helping with the production, agreed to go pick him up.
"His mother was stoned or drunk or whatever. He wouldn't let her drive him over and they were arguing while I was talking," he said, calmly.
Thankfully he lived about ten minutes away by car and the social worker got him there five minutes before the overture started.
"Whew! That was too close for comfort. They would've heard more wrong notes than usual, if I'd been forced into action," I said, to Dana, as we observed from backstage.
Dana had done makeup and both of us stayed backstage for this production, in case we were needed for an emergency. Other than the problem with Jared, things went fairly smoothly, but there were definitely other hitches. Vikram was a bundle of nerves beforehand and we weren't sure if he would actually be able to perform. When he got on stage it was obvious he was shaking and he had to be given some of his lines by the prompter off stage. Finally, he got his confidence after a funny line went over well with the audience and they laughed. He was really at ease later on when he and Jenny sang the James Taylor song 'You've Got a Friend' to Garth's character.
The next weekend was the closing night performance and there were a lot of dignitaries in the audience from the city, federal and provincial governments. All four performances had been full as the public service announcements on radio and the local TV station had done their job. The TV station also did a small news spot with their entertainment reporter, who had attended the dress rehearsal.
"It looks like the box office gate is considerably larger tonight," Dana said, before curtain call.
Rather than selling tickets, we had put out backpacks at the entrance and asked for monetary donations, as well as food items. The money had been considerably more for the first three performances than we would've have taken in, had we sold tickets and it appeared that the last performance was no exception to that trend.
"I must admit, I was very skeptical this arrangement was going to work," I said, as we took our seats to finally enjoy the performance from the audience.
Since this was their fourth performance, things went fairly smoothly. The dance number at the beginning, with Garth's friend Mandy front and centre, went off without a hitch. There were three other dancers with her that were from the shelter and Ms. Pauline was responsible for that part of the production. She had shown marvellous patience as the shelter kids had no dancing experience, but were enthusiastic. Mandy had also shown great leadership and she had helped Ms. Pauline a lot, even though she was being very modest.
"You must be very proud of your daughter," Dana said, as she turned around and spoke to Mandy's parents, who were in the seats behind us. Their big smiles left no doubt how they felt.
The climactic moment of the musical was near the end, when Garth sits cross-legged on the stage with the spotlight on him. He dreams of a better life and he considers taking his friends' advice to come off the street and let the people in the shelter help him. He starts singing 'A Simple Song', which was the piece composed by Mr. Swanson.
"We now have a chorus of sniffing," I whispered to John, as Dana, Susan and Janet had the tissues out.
From the darkness comes an identically dressed Derek, dancing Garth's dream, while he sang. Igor and Irina had done a great job with the choreography and Derek was delivering a super performance. Half-way through the second verse, Garth then enters the dream and dances in mirror fashion with Derek and the two of them end the song singing and dancing together. The boy and girl, who were running the spotlights, did a fantastic job of following them. This was much better than the smoke machine that Jake had wanted, which had made Derek sneeze during the first rehearsal.
"I can't believe how far Derek's come," Janet said, when she had finally composed herself. "I can't believe that's my shy young son up there."
The applause was loud and long as the audience appreciated how good the performance was. Things moved along very quickly and this was followed by Garth walking through the door to the shelter to be met by Jake, who was a social worker. After some dialogue, Jake takes a phone call and then smiles at the boy when he hangs up then launches into the song 'Smile', written by Charlie Chaplin.
"Do you have enough Kleenex, dear?" I asked Dana, who didn't speak but shook her head no.
Once again the audience was very enthusiastic in their applause. After the song, Ronald comes on stage and it's revealed the phone call was from him. He's there to take the boy as a foster child and we are led to believe, if things work out, he would like to adopt him. It was a touching scene, but also a little humourous, given Ronald's six foot plus frame leaning down to put his arm around Garth.
The finale was a thoughtful chorus of all the kids singing an adaptation of Mr. Swanson's 'A Simple Song'. After the standing ovation, the politicians had their moments addressing the audience and then Mark Depew got up to make a couple of presentations to the professionals who had volunteered their time.
"We'd like to present each of you with this plaque and an honorarium for lending your unique talents free-of-charge. Your help was invaluable to the kids and put a professional polish to the production," Mark said, as Executive Director of the Foundation.
After all the plaques and cheques had been presented the audience gave them a rousing round of applause. While that was happening, Gary leaned over to Ms. Pauline and the others and they were discussing something. When the applause had subsided, Gary stepped forward and addressed the audience and Mark.
"We all enjoyed working with the youngsters, who really didn't need all that much guidance. They are a talented and hard-working group. If this is representative of the next generation, we are all in great shape. We would like to thank the foundation for the generous honorarium, but we all feel that it would be better put to use in the Backpack Program, which was the reason for this production in the first place."
When the kids came out of the back to the lobby, we presented them with bouquets from us, as well as Fin and Tatania. Sean was touched that his grandparents had sent him flowers and also that his father had sent him a card with congratulations. Fin and Tatania couldn't be there, because they were travelling in Europe but they had emailed money to Dana and me to get flowers for the kids, including Garth and Glen. Garth was surprised as well and when he tried to read the card that came with the bouquet from them he had a lot of trouble.
"This looks like Russian," he said, with his giggle.
When Dana looked at the message it didn't strike her as anything unusual, but she read it to him anyway. Then Susan looked at it.
"They don't teach cursive writing in the elementary grades anymore," she explained, with a smile. "He has trouble reading anything that's written."
All of the kids involved got lots of praise, as they milled about in the foyer afterwards. Some of the kids didn't have parents there and we made sure that someone made contact with them to congratulate them on a job well done. We were having a catered staff party on the stage, after the audience had vacated and we made presentations to each of the young people involved in the production. We were going to come back in the morning to clean up so Jake, Sean, Melissa and Rachel left before things had wrapped up.
"Don't be too late," Dana said, as she gave all them a big hug. They said they were going out for a coffee and no doubt some 'bonding' time before they came home.
"I guess we'll have to wait until morning to give the boys the praise they deserve," I said, as Dana and I drove home.
"I think they know we were pleased," She said, with a big smile.
The wrap-up meeting of the foundation was the next week after the last performance. A Financial report was given which was much better than anyone had expected.
"We can now triple the program and we might have enough to run it in the summer, as well," Mark said.
"We also have another sponsor that's come forward, who will make sure the program becomes a permanent fixture," Carol added.
"I think these two boys deserve a round of applause for their work and altruism," Mark said, as Sean and Jake were smiling.
I was talking to Gary afterwards and he told me how impressed he was at the talent in the production. He also said that he was going to keep his eye open for future opportunities.
"You must be very proud of your sons," Gary said.
"They make us proud every day," I said, with a big smile, as I hugged both of them.