Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lazy days and day jobs

All right, so the days aren't exactly lazy for most people. I don't do much for the Benefit, myself. They don't really need my stage manager skills for the rehearsals - I would end up sitting there Most of the time. I usually come in around the end to help pull dress rehearsals together, otherwise everyone's happy for me to keep away, and I like to stay away so that I can enjoy the show almost like a real performance, and have some surprises.
I'm sure everyone will be glad to know that Josh (my actor in a neck brace last week) has made a full recovery, and while we had to alter some blocking and calm down Huck for the last 'River' performance, no one was any the wiser. Speaking of River...
In one of the numbers in act Two, "Waitin' for the Light to Shine" the original plan was to have most of the company onstage behind Huck while he sang, up stage of the scrim. But the choreography wasn't coming off as sharp and clean as the choreographer wanted and finally we cut the people from upstage and had them sing offstage. THe costume designer was angry and devasted because three of the women's dresses had been built especially for that number. After three performances, we've all finally agreed that, rather than being interesting, offstage choir sounds, it just looks more like Huck can't remember all the lyrics. So last night we called an early rehearsal, brushed the choreography and threw everyone back onstage. I think the director will be pleased to find that out, as well as the costume designer and the others who helped build the lvoely dresses. It just goes to show was a fluid artform this is...something isn't working, and is easily fixed.
We have had the issue of changing things constantly this season, mostly to do with scenery. Things were designed and built too large and ungainly (quite frankly) , and while it is unethical and unprofessional, cuts were made for the good of the company and the shows. Maybe it's not right, but the shows are better off for it, and that's really the bottom line.

All in all the season is going well. Audiences are enjoying the shows - we do get the token person now and then who might walk out at intermission because they "don't like it," for whatever reason, but based on the other 300 to 400 people in the audience who stay and clap, we don't worry too much about those.
Ciao for now...we'll see how the Revue goes in a few days!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Free at Last!

Stole the lyrics from Jim's song in 'Big River' for this post. Yes, we have all four shows open at long, long last, and what a trial. One can sum up politely by saying 'we all learned a lot'. Lots of patience, lots of grit-toothed smiles. So maybe things weren't as stressful as they felt, but when it's the fourth show in a Long run of rehearsals and trials, everyone was getting worn down. Kudos to everyone for pulling on through.

Once again, the set became an issue - on its own, it wouldn't have been such a monster, but with all that came before it - the gargantuan set for Seven Brides, and then Dolly, everyone began to wear a bit thin. The challenge was space Offstage, when it came down to it, and weight. The set for Big River was decorated with a material called smart lap (I believe the spelling is correct), which most of the technical crew and the actors began referring to as 'smart crap' or 'smart @#^%!" in their better moments. It was just so Heavy. Yes, it looks great, but it's one more thing to pile on top of a very weary company. Of course, as we all learn, one just has to go with it, and we did. I thank my stars for having Dwayne Ague backstage and on the build crew, his brain and experience and skill and patience helped us all when it came to scene changes and making everything work backstage.

In any case, the show opened to thunderous applause and, despite being about twenty minutes longer than it probably should have, people are enjoying it. Cuts that probably should've been made before we even started rehearsal never happened, so the audience gets a little restless toward the end, but they still cheer in all the right places.

So that's Big River. Rehearsals have begun for the Benefit Revue and otherwise we're falling into the swing of our summer - sleep in, work a day job, show, changeover, sleep! (Or not, depending if you're 'thirsty' or looking for a card game, with this company).

Yesterday I got back from a visit to Whitefish and ran into one of my actors in the grocery, and he was a sporting a neck brace. I found out he had 'slept wrong' on it, pressed two vertabrae together and wouldn't be able to be in the show that evening. Fortunately he was chorus in Seven Brides, but we still had to alter blocking, lines and choreography and tonight he's Huck Finn in Big River! So you can imagine our anxiousness that night, waiting to find out how he was doing today, talking over scenarious, who would fill in - who would replace the role of whomever filled in for him... As I llove to say, "never a dull moment!" I think if we hadn't been Prepared, things would've gone haywire. Such as it was, everyone was calm, prepared, and ready. He went to the physical therapist this morning and trotted into Revue rehearsal chipper and feeling better, so we all got a wave of relief, and the show should go off tonight just fine. (knock on wood)
I hope this just reminds everyone to take care of scare like that in a summer is enough adrenaline to keep Me going for the last month and a half...