Grace Machanic and Her Grand Finale

At the end of every great show you find an even grander finale.  Now, “grand” does not always mean a happy ever after.

At the end of Something’s Afoot, we breathe a sigh of relief as the two character stand triumphant at the end, but the writers of that tale decide to hit us with one final twist, one that leaves us wanting more, mouth agape. Drowsy Chaperone’s chaotic and insane theatrical performance is wrapped up with a sentimental and heartwarming goodbye – a rather open ending to a fantastic show packed with every crazy idea known to man. Even in Godspell, a show that Grace knew inside and out, the characters experience loss and have to deal with the aftermath of it all. During my sophomore year, our director Frank Shutts wanted to end the show with the death of Jesus and our exit, skipping the usual “Resurrection” that comes in combination with the final bows. As a cast, we had to truly place ourselves into the position of coming face to face with loss and making the choice to overcome the sorrow, letting the good memories and lessons learned fill in the void that that loss had formed. We didn’t really believe the adults when they told us that our experience with Godspell would be present in our lives forever.

So, to simply equate “grand” to “happy” is a sad demeaning of what theater is.

Grand means powerful, having a lasting effect, memorable – and each day of Grace’s life reflected the qualities of a beautiful show, so it makes sense that her final exit be just as impactful. Grand finales leave the audience wanting more, and Grace’s grand exit leaves us yelling “encore”, wanting her to be in front of us one more time, and then another time after that. Looking back on the way Grace touched and changed so many people as she danced through life, I am not sure there is any way that the memory of her can ever fade away. She planted seeds in countless tiny dancers, aspiring actors, directors, fellow dancers, teachers, audiences, and those men and women, girls and boys, will carry bits and pieces of her with them in every dance step, in every encore, and in every grand finale.

For many of the people I have had the privilege of performing with during my high school years, this is one of the first encounters we have had with a loss this great. Today, our small worlds were rocked by reality and surely, our minds and hearts confused with why this had to have happened. Each year, we wave a tearful goodbye to a show that captured our hearts for a few months. We take our final bows and give great thanks to the hands that pieced together such a wondrous performance.  When we say goodbye, we know that another year will come, and we will see each other again. We know we will experience the same laughs, stage blunders – and we know that we will see our beloved teachers and directors again. As we look back on the rich performance that was Grace’s life, we give her thunderous applause and a standing ovation, trusting that, while it might take a little longer than we expected, we will see her again.

Post written by Gabby Banniqued

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