June 11, 2007

First Dress: Looks Like a Show

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:06 pm

It’s 2AM and I just finished my duties on my daylight day of rest. I left the theatre around 1:06, having rehearsed 7PM-12AM, and then with a production meeting to discuss notes on the evening’s dress rehearsal, disconnecting my computer from the projector, and moving my crap off the tech table and back to the booth, it took a while. The show actually went pretty well for a first run, and my anxiety about calling was mostly unfounded. I did indeed sit in the very nice laundromat (they sure don’t have couches and coffee tables in any laundromat I’ve seen in NYC!) and put the warnings in my script, which gave me a chance to sit and focus on the order of the show and clean up my book. I’m pretty happy about it. I actually learned the show itself better than I expected before we started tech, and just needed to learn my cues. Today I started to feel like I’m also familiar with my cues, and even the ones I didn’t get right today now make sense. I wouldn’t want an audience to see the show tomorrow, but if they had to, I’d have a decent shot at not embarrassing myself. Which puts me in good shape, since I have tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday, and a special school performance (at 9-o-freakin-clock-in-the-morning) on Thursday, if you count that as “practice” before the first paid public performance on Thursday afternoon.

Even when things are going well I’m usually reluctant to give up the security blanket of calling at the tech table, where I’m closer to the stage and can hear and see better, and have an actual sense of the artistic vibe of the show. Once I’m in the booth 100ft away and seeing through glass and hearing through speakers, I have to rely on my memory of what it felt like in the house to know what the audience is experiencing and how I can shape that. In a perfect world I prefer to move to the booth having already settled on the ideal placement of all my cues, knowing I like what they’re doing, and then I can just try to recreate that from the booth. Of course I keep tinkering, but it’s a good foundation. I’ve been calling Phantom for over three years and there are still cues I’m not satisfied with. The biggest reason for that is that I’ve never been able to call it from the front. Such is the disadvantage of being a replacement or sub. It’s not just a matter of trying something and deciding if you like it. Just figuring out what the audience is seeing requires major research. And I’m a little bit OCD about Phantom — I won’t be satisfied until every one of the 400-odd cues are perfectly placed down to the nanosecond.

If it weren’t for the video component of Singin’ in the Rain, I’d spend another day at the tech table, but I’m eager to run video myself so I get a few tries at it. The VGA cable is just long enough to reach out the door of the booth to near the sound console, and the assistant engineer has been nice enough to let me call video cues to him so I didn’t have to be up there. I’ve noticed the response time when I’m calling video is longer than I’m used to, I’m not sure if it’s a delay in the computer because of the size of the files, or that the videos themselves have a second or two of black at the beginning, but it’s something I’ve had to make an adjustment for when calling, and getting to run it myself twice before an audience sees it will make me feel better. I also don’t like to get in the booth too late in the process, because sometimes there are surprises, like I discover I can’t see something as well as before, or the orchestra part I was listening to to call a certain cue is difficult to hear in the monitors. I’d rather discover these things while I still have one more chance to do it, so I can confirm I’ve solved the problem before there’s an audience. There’s few things scarier than changing something before the first performance and thinking it will work, but not having actually tried it.