Nutcracker on Ice--a really magical and unique show that my rink is known for. It's also 6 weeks of getting yelled at by parents, cried on by children, and bitched at by other coaches. All for minimum wage. It is my favorite part of our calendar. Perhaps thirteen years of doing it has numbed the area of my brain that should have made me hate it.
Today was the first run-through; no tech, just run the show through from start to end. One hundred eighty-six families, more than 200 children. There are probably close to 500 people in the building at the height of the madness.
Right off the bat, I commit the cardinal sin of assuming someone else is doing a specific job, which turns out to have been MY job, and miss getting two groups onto the ice. This is the only mistake I am present for all day for which I do not get blamed. It is the only one that is actually my fault.
The costumes, which usually arrive a month ahead of time, all get here today. Approximately 200 families descend on the costume room, more or less all at once. There are nearly 400 costumes, and they all need to be fitted by Thursday.
The parents, who all know me because I run the volunteer program, all seek me out to ask questions which a) they don't really need to know, b) don't have an answer, or c) they don't like the answer. The ones in category "c" will continue to ask me the same question all day, on the assumption that eventually they will get an answer they like.
One of the key soloists has decided that he has plenty of time to wander down the street to get a sandwich, as there are two whole 2-minute solos before he has to skate. He does not share this decision with anyone. We finally find him by getting one of the other kids to text him and let him know he needs to be on the ice.
The tots are getting restless. I tell them the story of the Nutcracker, into which they immediately manage to insert scatalogical references.
Speaking of which, the 6 to 10 year old boys are playing "who can fart the loudest."
The littlest girls' coach is gossiping in the stands, so I line them up, except I'm not their coach, so I don't know where they go. Coach comes and reads me the riot act for not knowing where her group belongs. Um...
One of the 6 year old girls decides she can't wait to skate, so she doesn't! We look up and she's improvising a lovely and spontaneous solo in the middle of the Spanish Dancer solo.
Step out trio runs into the group that they share the ice with. Their choreographer seems to want to know why I let them do this. That would be because that's how you choreographed it? Is this a trick question?
Concessionaire has run out of ingredients for her wonderful fresh sandwiches. I have a hot dog for lunch. (I do not eat processed food, as a matter of health and philosophy. This helps me remember why.)
Everyone has to hang around for a staff meeting at the end. I'm sitting around in the office, waiting for it to happen. Except it's happening in the sound booth at rinkside, so I miss it.
The magic starts again on Thursday with the dress rehearsal. Somehow it will turn into a spectacular and professional show; it does every year, despite my griping, the parents' panic, the mistakes and tears and costume snafus.
The Robert Crown Nutcracker on Ice is as magical as today's lovely snow storm, with these hundreds of skaters ages 3 to 50 in beautiful costumes, participating in this wonderful tradition. It is what inspired me, nearly 20 years ago, to encourage my daughter to skate.
If you're in the Chicago area, come and watch. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday December 10 through 12 at Robert Crown Center in Evanston.
Disclaimer-- couple a people were a little put off by this post. Rest assured, details of some incidents have been altered; if you recognize yourself, that's on you! Also, as I said, this is fun--Nutcracker is one of those "I can't believe they pay us to do this" sorts of jobs (and since they don't pay us much, it sorta works out). Really, come and see it!