This is NOT your typical post-show depression

It's almost 2 AM on Saturday (Sunday?), and 12 hours ago, I was in the middle of my final performance of Sunday in the Park with George. In case you missed it, I've spent my past six weeks as an accompanist for the Intermediate Musical Theatre Production at Interlochen, which means that I've spent the past month and a half playing one of my favorite shows alongside 26 of the most talented young actors and actresses I've ever met... I would say it was a dream come true, but even my dreams couldn't have been as perfect as this summer was.

I'll admit, I arrived on campus a nervous wreck. I felt underprepared, inadequate, and in many ways, immature. And I was right, to an extent. I had a lot of growing to do, but I was ready to do whatever it took to become a "real live accompanist". But at first, I took that to a pretty far extreme. Ex: (I promise I'm not even making this up) Everyone else: "Did you go to the cherry festival this weekend? It was so much fun! Also the WYSO concert was great... you were there right?" Me: "I didn't have time. I was too busy practicing." I went a little insane.

And then on Day 3, we did a read-through of the show. Top to bottom, with all the music. And I made it through. It wasn't perfect, but neither were any of my performances. But I relaxed a little bit. I stopped expecting perfection and instead started expecting authenticity and passion; I adopted the accompanist principle (see my last blog post if you don't know what I'm talking about) in my playing, and my life. The nervous wreck was gone.

So fast forward from Day 3 to about a week later, when I decided on a whim to eat lunch in the Intermediate Girls' cafeteria to get to know my campers a little better. I hadn't been sitting down for five minutes when I saw one of my campers banging on a nearby window. "REAGAN IS EATING IN PINECREST, REAGAN IS EATING IN PINECREST. CAN I SIT WITH YOU?????" I thought to myself, "This is the coolest I have ever been, and probably also the coolest I will ever be." But what I didn't realize was that these campers would turn out to be some of my closest friends from camp, even though they're all considerably younger than I am.

I remember in middle and high school when it was rare to find a friend with whom you could "pick up right where you left off" regardless of how much time had passed. I have one non-music friend like that from high school. But what I've learned over the past few years is that most friendships that are formed during honor bands, summer festivals, and theatre productions are that close. Art brings people together in a way that purely being social can't. When you create art together, you gain such deep understandings of yourselves, as well as a profound appreciation for the world around you, that it's almost impossible not to be deeply connected to one another in the process. And my friendships with my campers this summer are no exceptions.

In addition to my new perspective on the impact art can have on friendship, this show presented me with so many opportunities for artistic discovery. Obviously, playing a piano part for 5-7 hours a day will teach you plenty, but getting to delve into Sondheim and Lapine's words through the lens of our brilliant direction team was a privilege in itself. Sunday in the Park with George was not on my theatre bucket list, because I thought it fairly impossible that I would ever get to cross it off. But here I am at 18, having just finished accompanying one of my favorite shows of all time. And I'm heartbroken. There's a reason George sings about finishing the hat, rather than a finished hat: the process is the most important aspect of art. And now, the process is over... I guess.

But I will never stop learning from this show. And it is becoming apparent that I will never stop learning from Interlochen. I played in my first pit there, when I did RENT my senior year. It hasn't even been a year and a half, but I was so glad to be able to take what I started learning as a student and use it as an employee to contribute to another Interlochen production. However, in some ways, I feel like I learned more this summer than when I was a student. I learned how to become a better accompanist, friend, artist, and person, all while getting to be around some of my favorite people and playing one of my favorite shows. I'm not kidding when I say that I called my parents after every single rehearsal to tell them how much I was loving my summer. And to think that it's over is killing me.

BUT, as I realized a couple of weeks ago, ever since that first pit for RENT, I have never gone more than a month without doing a show. So... on to the next challenges: music directing Into the Woods and directing Full Circle: A Song Cycle! As I begin these next big projects, I want to thank everyone at Interlochen for all they've taught me, and express to everyone reading this that I think all of these experiences have been incredible building blocks for my experiences and my career, and I'm so excited to keep building. Have a wonderful day :)