The memories flood back as I enter a rehearsal room with dozens of other performers. We're this season's cast (or casts...) for the annual Christmas show at the local community theater. It's somewhat unfair to call it "community theater" because in my opinion, the talent that finds its way to the stage is almost as good as any professional production on a stage 15 miles to the south. I enter with the others and my mind drifts back, to years before when I and others chosen for other Christmas show casts sat and learned the music.
How things have changed since then.
Back then, there were certain things you could always count on with the Christmas shows. Big casts, lots of kids, entire families taking part in the festive tradition, and the same props being used each year. This year, minimal casts, enough children, and a more professional feel. The feel matches the surroundings perfectly.
We meet in a new, beautiful building, a building that took years to plan and construct. Its presence is an answer to many people's prayers. The old theatre (before expansion...) was basically two rooms, and a green room that doubled as a kitchen, painting bay, and storage space. The new theatre gives us incredible space everywhere. Everything's new and shiny.
"No Dave?" I asked a theatre executive while on a break. He said Dave wouldn't be doing the show this year. I've never done a Christmas show without Dave. I think of all the memories of past shows...the big casts, the families, the old and wonderfully cozy theatre, I think I'll miss Dave most of all. He will be my Ghost of Christmas Past this year. It's a new part for him, and he'll play it perfectly, like he always does.