I have spent many summer evenings under the stars on a picnic blanket at Shawnee Mission Park watching musicals come to life on stage. For as long as I can remember, this has been a part of the “Pennington’s Summer Traditions” We have the whole process down to a science. First of all, packing the picnic. The preparation starts early on and includes filling coolers and picnic baskets with dinner and treats for the show. We pack soda pop, sandwiches, chips, dip, and ALWAYS red licorice…It just would’t be theatre in the park without it. We always get there SUPER early, before the box office opens and stake out our place in the line. We typically have 2-3 people in the line and 2-3 people at the ticket counter so that once the tickets are in hand we can run over to the “waiting group” and streamline the process. Once the gates are opened…the selected “runner” from the group will bound down the hill as fast as they can, arms filled with quilts and blankets to throw quickly on the ground and reserve our space. Not to boast, but the Pennington clan often gets the prime spots—several blanket lengths back from the orchestra…center stage err…hill.
The show starts once the sun goes down so in the mean time we feast, play card games, and Frisbee. Occasionally, in my younger years I would also work on my summer reading or make ankle bracelets. Before the show the orchestra plays a medley of show tunes, which inevitably my mom knows every single one of.
As the sky dims the stage lights come up and the show begins! I attribute a lot of my love for musicals from theatre in the park. Through the years I have seen Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Joseph, The King and I, Gypsy and a million more. When the show is over, we quickly gather up all we came with and dash to the car, trying our best to beat the parking lot traffic. Always on the way home we debrief about the show, and often fall asleep before we reach the driveway. Theatre in the park is a wonderful part of my childhood. I hope to continue to make at least a show or two for many summers to come!
Love and Prayers,