It's the part of the process I dread. The Gala function. At any other theater, production staff is encouraged to bring their significant other to opening night, with a cast party to follow. Here, since the seats are limited, and everyone's parents want to see their kids on opening night, I opt to go solo rather than pay to purchase a ticket for Alan, who would rather NOT pay to see cute children perform...unless he directed them. (Gala tickets are also twice as expensive, to cover the food and wine.)
So, instead of having my ever-ready built in auto-date, I am forced into a room full of enthusiastic parents, trying to think up something to say. I've adopted a social anxiety coping strategy for these situations:
1. Come into the office the day of opening. Tidy up the disaster that has invariably broken loose during the last few days of production. Triple that if there were hats to make.
2. Find reasons to leave just before the Gala starts. Today, it was returning unused hat decorations to recoup some budget.
3. Return after the festivities are just kicking off. Wear something REALLY great so people notice that you are there.
4. Disappear into your office. Invent work. Stage the shop to look as if "amazing and busy things" are happening. This is exciting for parents getting the tour.
5. Cross through the lobby. The great outfit should attract comments. Have brief, cheerful conversations with parents about how great their kids are. This is usually true. The kids work very hard. Even more raving if the child managed to get into costume with all pieces for photos.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
7. Emerge from office at the dinging of the "all call" bell. Watch performance. (Or in some cases, when teching multiple shows, skip performance. Work during run. Emerge at intermission to mingle. Go back to office during Act II.)
Time to go. The bell is about to ring.