Backstage moms

Parents help put the student show together


Megan Brinkman and Jason Kappes

Puffy pink tutus and laced up ballet shoes often go alongside the phrase “stage mom,” but people don’t see the hours of work it takes to make the tutu or the chaos that comes with trying to tie a ballet shoe in the midst of a quick change.

Carmel stage moms won’t be confused with famous “momagers.” Instead these dedicated parent volunteers help with anything and everything backstage.

For most students, the Street Scenes show is over after graduation, but for many adult volunteers, it lasts much longer and becomes a yearly tradition.

Or a 25-year-tradition for Tomi O’Reilly who’s been with Street Scenes since 1989. She helps with costumes and gets the performers ready to go.

“Backstage I supervise all the changing,” O’Reilly said. “Mostly I think I am comic relief.”

O’Reilly didn’t simply wake up one day and decide to help produce the show. O’Reilly said her kids were her ultimate inspiration for joining the production.

Fellow “stage mom” Debbie Long said that she might be in charge of the students, but she learns a lot from her experiences as a Street Scenes volunteer.

“I have learned to be patient and remember kids, like we all do, make mistakes and we learn from them,” Long said.

Both moms agree that it comes down to the students, not the clothes they’re wearing or the tunes they groove to that make the performance truly incredible.

“If you just listen,” O’Reilly said, “16, 17, and 18 year olds are pretty amazing.”