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Fall musical more than just song and dance

There's always the time of year when summer officially comes to an end and the weather gets colder, school and activities start, and the leaves fall off the trees.

In my case, as a little kid, the one thing I always looked forward to was the Detroit Lakes fall musical.

The first fall musical I ever watched was when I was 8 years old, and it was Aieda. The play took place in ancient Egypt, and had to do with the prince of Egypt falling in love with the enslaved princess of Nubia. In the end, the prince is put to death and they meet in the afterlife.

Anyway, I was really interested in partaking in one of the musicals, and when I was in fifth grade the opportunity came. In music class, my teacher (Mrs. Melgaard) announced that the high school would be putting on Peter Pan, and they were interested in fifth graders for "lost boy" characters.

For auditions, we had to sing the song "I Won't Grow Up," which I started memorizing three weeks before the auditions. Now in fifth grade I (of course) hadn't started going through puberty, and (because the fact my voice was as high as a little girl) I was an okay singer, which I can honestly say no longer exists.

Come auditions, I was extremely nervous, and (ironically) the morning of them I woke up and my voice was completely shot. I went into the middle school choir room and croaked out the lyrics to "I Won't Grow Up," followed by a few (very basic) dance moves. I'm sure the act was quite hysterical, but to my astonishment I was on the call-back list, which took place the next night.

By the time callbacks came around, my voice was almost back to normal and I was able to sing (well enough, I guess). I remember having to wait the longest week of my life to find out if I got into the musical, and when the results were finally posted on the front door of Rossman Elementary, I covered my eyes and made my friend read the list off, which happened to have my name printed on the very bottom. I was unbelievably excited.

The next two months consisted of at least a two hour rehearsal a day (all evening by the time the final two weeks came around). I basically had to give up the first month of my Squirt hockey season, which resulted in me missing tryouts, but in the long run I didn't mind.

The hardest thing for me was all the dancing, which I managed to do all right at, and by opening night, my stuff was pretty well mastered.

When we weren't on stage we were in the choir room playing a card game called BS, or exchanging gifts.

You would have thought that fifth graders and seniors wouldn't have clicked too well, but we weren't excluded from anything, including the cast parties, which took place after each show.

The musical turned into a real emotional experience after the first week, when the news that my aunt Nancy (whom I was very close to, and who had been fighting breast cancer for 10 years) had passed away. I remember dedicating the last three shows to her, and even though I only had two lines, those two lines had a way of coming off as a lot more. That musical really helped me cope with my aunt's death.

After that year, I wanted to participate in more musicals, but because of the impact it had on my hockey season I wasn't ever able to. It did (in the long run) turn out to have a real positive effect on me, and actually was one of the most fun experiences of my life.

Jonah Bowe is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.