On Saturday, I headed back to my old high school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, to see their production of Grease. I knew going in that this would not just be your run of the mill high school play. Because this was a LaGuardia musical. When I was a student at LaGuardia, it was difficult not to be aware of the school's reputation. I remember being asked by all of my friends, "Do you go to the Fame school?", "So, what, do you just sing in the halls all day?", "Do you even have homework?". I knew that they could never truly understand what it was like to go to LaGuardia. In addition to a full load of academic classes, students were expected to balance their studio classes as well. It was considered normal to sing, dance, and practice your instruments in the hallways. And while I certainly wish there was no homework, the reality was that we had studio homework on top of our academic stuff. But it was all worth it for the killer performances.
That being said, it was easy to get spoiled. We were lucky enough to have state of the art equipment, instructors, and concert spaces. It wasn't that crazy to see Will Smith or Madonna walking the halls either. After a few years, we all took those things for granted. I know I did. And it really wasn't until I went to college and got some real distance from the school that it hit me how awesome I had it. Most other schools didn't have even close to the resources we had.
Seeing Grease was a real eye opener in a lot of ways. All of a sudden everything struck me at once. Just the sheer size of the concert hall was amazing. How did I never notice before? The talent level was utterly mind-blowing and I had to remind myself that the actors were all kids. The Orchestra? Same thing. Even the set was the designed by teenagers! How they managed to get a full sized, light up car on stage is beyond me, but it's pretty incredible and the execution beats that of some Broadway sets I've seen. And technically speaking, the show was flawless, thanks to Tech majors (also kids) who were on top of their game. Between numbers, while most audience members were wooping and applauding in acknowledgement, I found myself kind of shaking my head in disbelief.
I used to think that nobody could ever get what it was like to go to LaGuardia. They would never comprehend how remarkable these kids were and what they were capable of. But it turns out that I was guilty of just that and it took returning to my high school for it to connect. LaGuardia is a safe place that allows young artists to get out there and do what they do best: perform. I thank LaGuardia for supporting my love of the arts and supplying me with the confidence and the tools I needed to pursue singing.
$15 Student Tickets
Grease @ LaGuardia High School