"Growth Itself Contains the Germ of Happiness."

Or so says Pearl S. Buck. It’s been a week’s worth of celebrating growth: Signature’s new building is finally Officially Open, Into the Woods is finally Officially Open, and I’m slouched in front of my computer trying to get my mind to wrap around what all this growth means.

The weekend of the 13th and 14th was Signature’s Open House; although we were in the midst of previews for ITW (which meant we were also still rehearsing), I gave a couple of hours each day to helping out with the festivities. Saturday I put in two hours of face-painting; Sunday I conducted a few tours of the building. The photo is from Sunday’s ticket giveaway for that evening’s performance of ITW – I took it from the second floor of the parking garage, and the line stretched from the upper right corner of the photo (to the theatre’s front door), underneath my feet and into the garage. Quite something. I must have showed a couple hundred people through the building that day; it was good to see that the Open House had attracted so many people who weren’t Signature “regulars.” The Open House and the ticket giveaway were a really smart way to get potential audience into the space and get them excited about it.

This past Friday was press night for the production; Saturday was the Gala Opening. Curtain went up at 6:30 to a black-tie audience consisting of Signature’s donors and friends; post-show there was a fashionably late dinner, followed by much drinking and dancing. It was good to see all the people who’ve worked so hard to make the new space happen enjoying themselves; it was equally good to see all the folks who’d reached into their pockets and funded the new space having just as much fun.

Here’s fellow cast members April Harr Blandin (the Baker’s Wife), Stephen Gregory Smith (Jack) and Matt Conner (the Steward), along with Assistant Music Director Jenny Cartney. They are looking a lot more chipper than I was at the time; midnight was approaching and I was quickly turning into a pumpkin.

A few more photos from the Gala:

The inimitable Channez McQuay and me (charter members of the Old Broads’ Club). Chan was clearly still going strong; it’s equally clear I was fading rapidly although it’s difficult not to grin when you’re with Chan.

ITW‘s Music Director Jon Kalbfleisch and Signature’s Associate Director Michael Baron – handsome in black tie (and always).

And here’s Signature’s go-to guy and Assistant Director, Matt Gardiner, with the lovely Stephanie Waters (Cinderella).

I got home around 12:30 Sunday morning and was reminded by my husband that he had arranged for us to pick up a load of manure at 11 AM. Seriously. There’s a certain irony in getting this news when you’re wearing your black-tie finery. I got a few hours’ sleep and woke to 20 degree temperatures and the threat of snow later in the day. John and I put on our grubbies and work boots and went over to our friend Amy’s. Amy boards a horse and the horse poops, and as any gardener will tell you, horse poop is gold as far as making your garden grow. This is John and Dunya, the boarder and generous donor.

Armed with shovels, pitchforks, bags and a big Rubbermaid garbage can, the three of us (John, Amy and I – Dunya’s work was already done) began our work. Dunya’s owner cleans the stable but leaves the manure at the backside of the corral; initially we dug around the dry edges but finally got up the courage to strike deep, and were rewarded with beautifully composted material that steamed in the cold air and was filled with beneficial earthworms. We filled the can and five bags, said goodbye to Amy and Dunya and headed home to unload.

Oddly, what seemed like plenty when we were filling the containers didn’t seem nearly enough once we spread the manure in my vegetable garden. We had enough to just cover the garden’s surface, and no more. John and I discussed whether we should head back for another load, but it was starting to snow, we were hungry and we figured Dunya was a productive enough horse that a visit in the spring would suffice. Our eyes alight with greed, we gloated about the beautiful vegetables which will result from an hour of hauling horse poop.

So Signature’s building is open and appears to be thriving, and my vegetable garden has gotten a dose of nutrients that will serve it well come spring. And here’s my deep thought of the day: with a lot of work (some of it smelly and unpleasant), some good friends (all of them willing to pitch in and lend a hand) and a few generous souls (whether you’re needing money or manure), growth happens – whether it’s a brand-new theatre or a humble vegetable garden. Thanks, all you Signature donors. Thanks, Dunya.

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