It was a good-sized elementary school auditorium, completely filled with maybe 300 people in attendance. Little brothers and sisters sat on their parents' laps or cross-legged on the floor. Every child had a part to play. My daughter's first grade class was dressed as elderly townspeople.
I'd never seen "The Music Man" before. I didn't know how to compare the kids' performance with the real thing. But there were some nice solos and it was obvious that the effort was there.
After the curtain fell, the cast took turns to bow. Older students held kindergarteners' hands. Their expressions beamed for praise. The director pumped his fists in the air. Someone whistled. Feeling a spark of excitement I stood up and clapped loudly.
After a few moments I realized that something was wrong. No one in front of me had risen to their feet. It was strange. The applause was weak. I turned and saw one or two other parents standing for the ovation. But the rest remained seated. With arms extended and faces bathed in bluish white light, about half of the crowd silently snapped away on their smartphones.
The cast of kids seemed unfazed by the paltry reaction from the crowd. They didn't know how much louder it should have been.
Later, on social media, everyone agreed that it was an amazing performance. But in the moment of the applause the exuberance had fallen short.