"There is something special about theater by students, for students. It isn’t just about putting on a good show anymore. It’s about passion, drive, dreams. It’s about vision, leadership, exploration. I remember the first time I heard about Grab Bag. It had no name, no leaders, no real weight; it was just a rumor of a student production of Hairspray. I heard whispers of it when standing in line to audition for the school play, crazy stories about this insane idea our peers had thought up. I never really made a decision. I didn’t think or weigh the consequences. I just gathered my things and left the theater.
It was the best decision of my life.
I had no idea what I was getting myself in to, no reason to believe that this crazy rumor would ever come true. But in that one moment before I walked out those doors, I was full of total and complete faith.
I will admit I lost sight of that faith over the next few months. Most of us did. We were just a bunch of kids trying to break into an adult world; it was a fact we couldn’t escape. There were days when we cried, when we snapped at each other, and when rehearsal felt like a punishment. We had no costumes, no performance space. We didn’t know our lines or our notes, we were weeks behind, and the microphones didn’t work. We had lost our props, our shoes were falling to pieces, we had no snacks, and we were losing cast members. There were dark days when we were sure that Hairspray would be an embarrassment carried out in someone’s backyard. But then something changed. We stopped and took a minute to acknowledge each other. We sat down, all of us in a circle two days before opening night, and told each other what we felt. We shared admiration and love and thanks. We remembered who we were. We were just kids, just students. We were all on the same level, and that’s why this depth of feeling could exist. We stopped to recognize the beauty in each other, and in this incredible feat we were trying to pull off. We let ourselves feel pride, feel accomplishment, and let that drive us forward, together.
And two days later Hairspray happened. It more than happened, it exploded, into the crazy, heart warming, rollicking show about overcoming obstacles and coming together for music. So basically it was a staged representation of the past few months of our lives. It was beautiful; it was momentous. It was life changing.
And now Grab Bag is a reality. It went on to become something real, something permanent. Anything Goes was an incredible production and a wonderful experience. But I, and many others who lived GBT from the beginning, feel a special tie. The shared wonder that Hairspray took flight when it seemed like it was doomed to crash and burn. I will always remember standing in the wings, watching my best friend belt a solo for the first time, crying with pride. I will always remember holding the hands of my cast backstage on opening night, squeezing hard to be sure it wasn’t a dream. I will always remember the fierce satisfaction, the wild, flaming pride we all felt. That will burn with me, with all of us forever.
I can’t really imagine being in the audience for the next show, watching GBT instead of living it. But I will do everything in my power to be there, because Grab Bag is not a show you want to miss. It’s an outlet for students to explore the other sides of theater, business, direction, and production. It is a place for leadership and creative growth. It lives on respect and dreams and ambition and it is built on the shoulders of kids who will change the world.
It is a company, it is a community, it is a family. It is Grab Bag Theater."