Once you’ve helped plan & set-up for the MET’s annual Retro Prom, you have a new appreciation for any teacher or administrator that may have had a hand in planning any dances you attended while in school.  Planning for Retro Prom starts months before hand. It isn’t just deciding on a theme, throwing some tables & chairs together, buying a few cases of soda &  then it’s time for Prom! No, no, Retro Prom takes far more time than that.

A theme has to be decided upon. Then, we need to select decorations and sometimes, those decorations need to be made.  And trust us, sometimes, even the most basic, simplistic design can be tricky to execute.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a bunch of boxes in a variety of sizes that will fit together in such a what that they look like buildings?

Then, there’s the food. In years past, we at the MET have supplied our own food.  That included buying all the ingredients, finding a place to do cooking, finding all the necessary utensils, getting enough people together to do the chopping, cutting, slicing & dicing. And it can be painful! A few years ago, we had an appetizer that featured jalapanos. Two of our company members bravely removed the seeds from each & every pepper. Little did they know when they started that the juices from the jalapones would work it’s under their fingernails & cuticles! They had tingly jalapanos hands for a few days!

This year, we asked local eateries for donations, which made our job much easier, but still, someone had to go get the food & bring it to the rec center. Soda, water, wine & beer have to be purchased & brought over to the Rec Center.

MET money, as well as name tags, have to be printed off & cut. We need to print tickets & place the pre-ordered ones in envelopes. We have to make sure that areas like the ticket table, will call, Prom photos & the bars will be staffed at all times.

The items in our silent auction have to be collected. A display card has to be created for each item. All the items have to be catalogued & tracked.

On the actual day of Prom, MET-sters get up bright & early and, fueled by coffee & doughnuts, we put everything into a U-Haul & several other vehicles & drive it over the Rec Center. Once there, tables & chairs have to be unloaded. And trust me, the sheer number of chairs we use is astounding. A U-Haul filled entirely with chairs! Once everything is in the building, then it’s time to start arranging it.  Linens need to be pressed, tables arranged, drop cloths laid down, lights hung and decorations arranged. We need to makes sure the Spin Doctor (the amazing DJ)’s area will have enough electrical outlets for all his equipment. Someone has to go pick up the food. Someone has to make sure we have enough ice for the drinks.  By the time it’s actually Prom time, many MET-sters are worn out, but manage to summon the necessary energy for the night ahead! After all, the Electric Slide isn’t going to dance itself!

And even after the last dance, we have to strike everything. For those of you non-theatre folks, strike just means “take it down”.  Everything we brought into the Rec Center, we have to take out that night. By the next day, you would never know we were there. And after a day of set-up & a night of dancing, putting stuff back into a U-Haul & then taking it back to the MET to unload it isn’t always something you want to do. Especially after you’ve spent the evening in four inch heels. But, I suppose that that is this blogger’s own fault. 😉 As much as you may want to go home & just fall into bed, you once again summon forth that last little bit of energy & do it. Then you go home & collapse.

But in all seriousness, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it. Retro Prom is our biggest fundraiser & a chance for us to not only be with each other, but with our loyal volunteers & patrons, in an amazing way. You interact with people differently at Retro Prom, I think. Maybe it’s because it’s a bit like a masquerade. With your crazy outfit, you let your guard down a bit & you’re more inclined to go over & strike up a conversation with someone you may not know very well.

So, thank you to all the amazing people who helped make the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s 8th annual Retro Prom a smashing success. Whether you’re a company member, board member, volunteer, patron or just a friend, we couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s the next one!

Check out this slide show by photographer Jim Hamann, who attended prom in swanky retro style:

Maryland Ensemble Theatre