Pure Imagination

Last night, we had the experience of a lifetime. We attended Rave On Productions “Willy Wonka.” It was so much fun. All of the children were students at the McGuigan Arts Academy. This is one talented group of kids. Some of the parts were played by children of the McGuigan brothers. How proud their Grandpa Bill would be! Who could have thought all those years ago, when those three boys learned to play instruments, sing along to the great music of the Beatles, and eventually have an internationally traveling group of performers, that so much good would come from all of it?

Jay Hanson was perfect as Willie Wonka. He has such a mischevious look in his eye. It was displayed often and well during the performance. There were adults in the ensemble, but most of it was on the kids. And the five gold ticket winners were played so well. Lessons abound in the play.

My apologies for not knowing the names of all the kids. What I learned about each of them while watching the performance is they are learning not just how to sing, act, dance, play with each other. They are learning teamwork, cooperation, respect of their fellow performers, and that everyone does something well. And it’s not just the kids; the adults respect each other, too.

We like to sit close, and from the second row, we could tell how the encouragement they offered each other shows in their eyes. All of the actors showed absolute respect for each other and their personal space. This is key in today’s world. On the way home, I told the Babe how nice it was to see dancers (Oompa Loompas) have actual clothes on. Being Dance Grandparents, we’ve seen the skimpy costumes and over sexualization of little girls for years. This does not happen at the Arts Academy, and I applaud that. Pure respect for everyone. Something you don’t see a lot anymore. Kudos to the culture, leadership, and people of McGuigan Arts Academy.

I borrowed a Facebook photo posted by Kate Whitecotton earlier today of the cast on closing afternoon. Speaking of Kate, I have to say, you don’t often see a CEO who works as hard as she does. Kate helps set the stages, tune guitars, place water for hydration near all the musicians, takes photos, herds the cast and musicians around so everyone is where they need to be, and is shoulder to shoulder with the newest on the crew. No job is below her. Kate, you are such an asset to Rave On Productions. Omaha is lucky to have you here. Thank you!

The whole premise of Willy Wonka’s story is using your imagination and actually seeing what exists around you. Learning lessons, telling the truth, apologizing when you’re wrong, it’s all part of becoming a good citizen. I believe these things are taught at McGuigan Arts Academy. If we had grandchildren those ages, I’d love to have them involved. Ours are into competition dance, school dance team, and elite sports. We’ll always be in the Academy’s audiences, though, cheering for other people’s grandkids. It’s just so much fun.

Keep your eyes out for the next endeavor of the Rave On/McGuigan Arts groups. August 11, 12, and 13, Billy and his band play at Sumter Ampitheater. Get your tickets now for a great night of entertainment. You’ll be glad you did.

The theater is beautiful, as were the 50s era backdrops. They were a perfect mix. We all need more imagination and creativity in our lives. Let’s practice that this week. And making the best of things. Being positive. Have a beautiful week. See you tomorrow.