July 31, 2007

42nd Street Week 2 Recap

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:12 pm

I haven’t been posting very regularly since we started rehearsal. It’s been a crazy process and I haven’t had much free time, or the mental energy to relive my day after I get home. I have been taking some pictures with the intention of sharing them, so I will try to catch you up.

Now that we’ve got something very closely resembling a show going on on the stage of the Robinson Theatre, here’s what’s been going on:

First of all, let me introduce Jameson, our company’s “Spiritual Frog.” He sort of showed up one day and I really wasn’t sure where he came from or why he was there. His origins are still somewhat of a mystery to me, but he apparently originated with the ensemble men, following them around to various rehearsals and watching over them. When we started working on stage, he was placed in a position of honor between the center footlights on the pit rail, so he could keep a good eye on us. These days he’s no longer perched on the cardboard box, he fits quite nicely below the masking for the footlights, where I’m sure he will remain for the run. Update: he’s now on top of the piano in the pit, where his view of the stage is somewhat reduced. I’m going to try to get him back on the pit rail, as I think he’s helped us out on a few occasions.

You may remember our “Lullaby of Broadway” set that was juuust a little too tall. Here it is in tech, with the top platform and escape stairs cut down by a couple feet.

And here’s a typical view from my corner of the tech table:

I don’t know where my headset is. I’m probably wearing it. But I you can see the little leather baggie that I use to keep my own personal headset safe and separate so it doesn’t get mixed in with the theatre’s. One of these days I’m going to get a nice hard case for it, as the baggie would do nothing to prevent it from getting crushed.

So tech has been going well. This show is all about quickchanges, and we took some time before our first dress last night to talk through all the major changes so the cast could figure out where to preset their costumes in the wings and work out the traffic. For the most part it worked. We had to stop only once, at the end of “Dames” which features a ginormous quickchange right in the middle of the number. Our goal for tonight is to make that change. There were a few other hiccups, with one or two people scrambling on late, but nothing to stop the show.

We had our sitzprobe with the orchestra on Sunday night, which I managed to get through efficiently while stealing selected people out of the dance rehearsal across the hall. The orchestra sounds great, and it always perks up the cast to hear them for the first time. I had arranged for the whole ensemble to come in and listen to the ballet, but alas time was short and better spent on stage dancing the ballet, so after singing “Sunny Side” they had to leave.

Tonight is our first run with the orchestra.

July 25, 2007

Allentown, We Have a Problem

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:15 pm

M.J. demonstrates why the railway station is just a little too tall.

That’s the platform the cast is supposed to enter on. We knew what was going to happen as soon as the set was unloaded, but today the crew assembled the station stair unit, giving a visual element to the assessment that it’s HUUUUUGE!!!!

But I learned something today that made the whole set at least make a little more sense. This is a national tour set. See, I was under the impression that it was a large but second-rate touring set. So when I would hear things like some of the drops are over 50 feet tall, I remarked at the production meeting, “Where did they expect to take this, the Fox?” Well, uh, I guess they probably did. Maybe more than once, to more than one of the gargantuan Fox Theatres. Under its worn paint and chipped plywood detail work, I hadn’t noticed that it’s all made of steel. It also explains why certain corners weren’t cut in the design where you’d expect a touring set to be made more manageable. The railway station is a perfect example. It’s huge and there are so many pieces, why would anyone ever want to drag all that around and try to cram it into a variety of theatres? Well when you picture it on a national tour it seems perfectly reasonable. Of course the Robinson Theatre is not the Fox. Ideal height of a drop custom made for our theatre: 17 feet (height is a major inconvenience on every show). I believe the grid height is 36 feet, meaning a 53ft tall drop stood up on our stage would be several stories taller than the roof of the building.

I’m not sure exactly which tour the set is from, nor do I know anything about the tours of the original production of 42nd Street to make that determination, but the set has obviously been around the block a few times, so I wouldn’t doubt that it could be from the ’80s. I’ll have to see if I can find out. At any rate, this is one of the things we will have to figure out in the coming days.

July 24, 2007

Meeting the Dancing Feet

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:32 pm

We had our first rehearsal for 42nd Street today. Some of the principals worked on vocals in the daytime and in the evening the full company came together for the meet & greet, then the ensemble learned their vocals, and then went to work on the opening number. They learned the whole thing and it would be no exaggeration to say they tapped up a storm. This is going to be a great company, and there are a number of dancers with whom I’ve done prior Reagle shows, but haven’t seen in a while and am very glad to be working with again.

Meanwhile on stage the crew is going full steam to put this huge set together. The set was just purchased by Reagle at the end of last summer, and this is the first time it will be used. It came in a bit of disrepair from its former owner, and this production will be an opportunity for the Reagle crew to work their magic and refurbish it so that it will be ready for rental to other theatres around the country. The sets, props and costumes that Reagle owns are a great source of additional income. Singin’ in the Rain went to Oklahoma as soon as we were done with it, and I believe they open very soon, and the gorgeous Crazy for You package, which is the original Toronto production sets, props and costumes (Robin Wagner, William Ivey Long — it’s amazing), has just returned from Ogunquit Playhouse and will soon be going off somewhere else. I believe the new King and I set is also being saved for future rentals. So getting this set in shape will have benefits far beyond just the next four weeks.

Large objects are springing up hourly. Here we have various pieces of the train cars:

At one point I came out of the shop and onto the stage expecting to look out into the house and found a giant wall had appeared since the last time I passed through. This is the “Maison des Dames,” a flown contraption of velour, muslin and hard flats with a set of doors that is used at the beginning of the “Dames” number. The front is quite nice, although it needs a lot of love at the moment to fix some tears and broken moulding.

I believe tomorrow’s agenda is for the big railway station set to be assembled.

Also, here are a few shots from the strike of The King and I.

Following the path of exiting scenery, from stage left past the prop table, off the loading dock and into the warehouse across the parking lot.

July 19, 2007

King and I Final Week

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:34 pm

We are quickly coming to the end of our run of The King and I. A large chunk of the 42nd Street set has infiltrated the back of the shop, as seen at right. The metal things in front are the marquee signs for the ballet, which have a place in my heart as I built all the marquees by myself when I did the show in high school. We don’t have a lot of height on our stage, so we will have to see if we can use all of them. One of the big vertical signs is 15 ft. tall, which will fit, but may or may not look silly.

I have to explain this photo. A couple performances ago, a mysterious paper fish on a stick appeared swimming across my booth window. I found this an excellent piece of entertainment during a long show, and the fish made several more appearances. Eventually it was joined by a squid or octopus of sorts, and they would have some sort of a battle. Tonight things quickly advanced: the fish and squid were present, but were later replaced by a shark and a larger octopus, who also did battle. In what I thought would be the highlight of my night, the fish appeared swimming peacefully, when a can perhaps representing a discarded piece of trash or a toxic spill floated down into view, causing the fish to go belly-up. Little did I know.

It was during Act I Sc. 7, Anna’s bedroom, that I was minding my business watching the scene, when I detected another stirring below the booth window. I was looking forward to seeing what was coming next, but completely unprepared for what happened. In one smooth motion, a complete panorama of suspended sea creatures was hung over the entire center panel of the booth window. I didn’t even have a chance to see it all before I completely lost it. I spent the rest of the scene laughing with tears streaming down my face and gasping for enough breath to give my warnings. They were only up for a few seconds because the ends had to be held by hand. By the start of the second act I was ready to enjoy them calmly, and as soon as the Entr’Acte began they were put back up with tape (which is when I took the picture, which doesn’t even show the full width of the display), and I happily called the rest of the show with my new sea creature friends.

Also, a small note in honor of a Reagle landmark:

This the majestic Eagle Lake, sometimes called Lake Eagle. We’ve had a few days of rain, and the lake was in full form today in our parking area most used by crew and orchestra. This isn’t the biggest it gets, as the rain has been intermittent, but this is the biggest I’ve seen it this year. I made the mistake of not pulling all the way up to the edge of the warehouse and had to go wading to get my bag out of the trunk.

Just a few more performances and we’re on to the final show of the season.

July 17, 2007

42nd Street Pre-production

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:48 pm

It’s our second week of the run of The King and I, and I’m starting pre-production on 42nd Street. On this, our third consecutive day off (I love this schedule!) I swung by the theatre to pick up some mail, and the casting worksheet and contact info for our 42nd Street cast.

My first step is to go through the cast list and make some kind of mark next to the names of people I’ve worked with before. These will be the first to go on the contact sheet, by copying and pasting from previous contact sheets. If I have their resume in my pile, I will double-check that the info I have matches the presumably more-recent info on their resume. Since I’m in no hurry, I will take the opportunity to update my personal contact files on my computer as I go along, so that my computer and phone will have everybody’s numbers on them as early as possible, before I need to call or e-mail anyone. When I get too many of them too close to rehearsals, or on the first day of rehearsal, it can be hard to find time to properly update everything. So I’m very glad to have gotten that out of the way.

Our director, Eileen Grace, has sent me her tentative schedule for the rehearsal period. I checked it for errors regarding allowed hours under Equity rules, sent back a couple notes and questions, and then will send it out to the actors I have e-mail addresses for when it’s ready. With that I have also started my calendar (see this post for the template) based on her schedule. I will fill in the details for tech and dress rehearsals after we decide on them at our production meeting.

Putting a show together is like a puzzle… the next ball I have in the air is the production meeting. Eileen and I have decided on 11:30AM next Tuesday, so I have now reached the point where I’m ready to send out an invitation to everyone else to find out if they can attend. But in order to do that I need to know who “everyone else” is, and there were a few I thought might be changing. A few e-mails answered the questions I had about sound engineer and prop master, and finally I’m able to send out the invitation.

With that straightened out, I was also able to make my “42nd Street Reports” group in Entourage, with all the e-mail addresses of everyone who will receive the report. See this post for more details about the report. I’ve even updated my rehearsal report template to change King and I to 42nd Street, so that will be ready to go on the day of the first rehearsal. The performance report is a separate template, so I can still use the King and I version of that.

The whole thing has only taken me about three hours, so not too much of a dent in my day off, but a big help in getting things ready for the next show before things start to get crazy. In fact, for both shows on Saturday most of the off-topic discussion on headset was about 42nd Street. Things like load-out, the lighting plot for the next show and how similar it will be, and how that will affect the time needed for lighting load-out and hanging for the next show. I was mostly just listening, but for the tech director, production manager and master electrician to be able to sort stuff like that out, it’s pretty helpful.

It’s a good feeling to be ahead of the game going into the last show. It’s an even better feeling once the last show opens to not have to worry about another show after it. But then of course comes the feeling of, “Oh my God, I don’t have a job!!” and “What do you mean I’m not getting a paycheck next week?” It’s very easy to fall into a routine and forget what a blessing it is to get a regular paycheck, especially one you can live on. I have one sort-of-job on the horizon, should nothing else come up, but I would love it if I had a real show lined up by the time I leave Reagle.

July 13, 2007

We’re in the money!

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:55 pm

As I was talking to someone in the back shop during intermission tonight, I saw this over their shoulder and suddenly exclaimed, “Dimes!” I guess they got a chance to dig into the 42nd Street truck during the day. Aside from $1.80 in dimes and some luggage, I haven’t seen what else might have been unloaded, but it was enough to get me excited. I rarely if ever look forward to going back into production, but I love 42nd Street, and I think it will be a very fun way to end the season.

We had our official opening night tonight and a little party in the lobby after the show. Things are still going well. We have our only two-show day tomorrow. So far I don’t have any grand plans between shows. I hope to get an opportunity to battle my Pokemon against Nick, who is the deck electrician on this show, and all to blame for the fact that I am playing Pokemon at all. We keep meaning to have a battle, but this putting-on-a-show thing keeps getting in the way.

July 12, 2007

King and I Opening

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:25 pm

We had our first performance today, a matinee. Well it was a matinee when it started, at least. This show is long. The running time hasn’t changed very much at all through tech, but the show has always felt so fast that I would stare at my notes checking and double-checking my math, thinking there’s no way it can be 2:42 without intermission. It’s now down to 2:40, but the house generally requires a 20-minute intermission, and God help us if we go up late. Today we started at 2:12, which was not the best way to begin a 3-hour show. We had some latecomers, a lot of whom were elderly and in various stages of disability, there was a line for the wheelchair lift, and by the time everyone was settled in, our estimated end time was approaching Les Miz proportions. And I’m not talking about Les Miz after the cuts.

Also at the performance were the students from Reagle’s summer theatre camp. There are about 80 students for the camp’s second year of operation. The camp is taught by members of the Reagle staff with master classes from visiting artists and technical personnel from the summer shows. Earlier this week the kids had a class with choreographer Gemze de Lappe, along with some of the show’s dancers, where they learned choreography from the show. We had a talkback with them after the show, which was attended by more cast members than I expected, enough that we couldn’t all sit on the edge of the stage. The kids were very enthusiastic, asking good questions. I can tell from these events that before they see the show they have spent time learning about it. Next week they will have their master class with me, which will be held at the theatre and include a backstage tour. I have a great time with that kind of stuff, and I can tell they’ll be a good group.

The show itself went very well, and we had a larger audience than I was expecting. I had heard numbers like 800 being thrown around a couple days ago, but I don’t think I believed them. In my very unscientific estimate out the booth window, I’d say it was closer to 900. Anyway, it’s already a bigger house than any on the last show. We’ve got a few production photos up on the website now, which were taken at our dress on Tuesday (minus a final coat of paint on some of the set), courtesy of production photographer Herb Philpott. This one captures best what I sometimes stop and gape at in certain cues:

Set: gorgeous. Costumes: gorgeous. Lighting: gorgeous. And all gorgeous in harmony with each other. This show is pretty. It’s not fast, it’s not difficult, but it just looks so good I feel like I’m still doing something helpful.

New Discoveries

I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 9:11 pm

Have you heard the news that the new Macbook Pros have a 1.3MP camera in them? Very exciting to get something you didn’t know you were getting. Doesn’t look like any apps can take advantage of that yet, but surely it’s a sign of better things to come. The test app mentioned in the link is now available for download to be played with by all. You can see the video is quite slow, so some work will have to be done to make real-time video at this resolution practical. But if you just want to take a better snapshot with your camera, you can use this little app and have it saved to the desktop.

All this talk about the camera drew my attention to an app called iGlasses. I hadn’t yet gotten around to digging up the best apps for camera-having Macs, and I think this one is a keeper. And at only $8, the improvement in picture quality is more than worth it to me. The terrible single-source florescent lighting in my summer apartment has made for some very dark video chats, and iGlasses’ “enhanced” setting immediately improved the brightness to a normal level. It also features some funky options to entertain or annoy your chatting partner, depending on their perspective.

Using Protection
My assistant at Reagle has, as long as he’s had his iBook, sworn by using a protective sheet over his keyboard to prevent finger oils from getting rubbed on the screen, and to keep the keys from pressing into the screen and leaving permanent marks. Personally I’ve always felt I was too busy to deal with such a thing, but this probably stems from the fact that my Powerbook had the “white spots” flaw, which began to show itself after two or three weeks of ownership, and I figured there was nothing the keys could do to the screen that would make it look any worse. Four years later, the screen has a full representation of the keyboard imprinted on it, which I can really only see when it’s off. One day during rehearsal I was sitting in the lobby with the MBP, bathed in sunlight from the courtyard, and saw the faint outline of the very edges of my keys on the screen. It’s one thing to let a defective screen go to hell, but this machine is being very good to me, and I was not treating it with the respect and care it deserves. I stopped at Staples on the dinner break to get some screen cleaner spray, and vowed to get to the Apple store as soon as I could to buy a proper cover for the keyboard.

You know every Apple laptop comes with a thin piece of foam that covers the keyboard during shipping. Some people keep this and continue to use it. But really, part of the experience of being a Mac owner is spending a bunch of money on a piece of cloth, secure in the knowledge that this is the only piece of cloth ever professionally manufactured specifically for the purpose of covering the keyboard of your machine.

This miracle device is included in the Marware Protection Pack. It’s a piece of cloth. It’s the size of the keyboard, except it’s actually not. It would need to be a millimeter or two wider to be perfectly sized. But it’s made of microfiber, which means it can also be used to clean the screen. While it’s bigger than the microfiber cloth I normally carry for this purpose, at least it means I no longer have to carry that and keep it clean.

Also in the Protection Pack is a leathery protective sticker that covers the whole wrist rest area. I worry about my wrist rest because I have a metal clasp on the bottom of my watch (which I’m generally careful to keep elevated off the keyboard), and my PB has pitting on the aluminum where my right hand sits when using the trackpad (over the CD slot), and on the trackpad button. While I see this more as a testament to the hard work this machine has done, it’s definitely not pretty. Based on my research, I decided the only thing uglier than the pitting was the Marware wrist rest cover. On a Macbook, especially a black one, the color of the laptop and the wrist rest might blend in. But there is a big difference between bare aluminum and a gray leathery thing. How could I make my MBP so ugly for its whole lifespan in the name of preventing it possibly becoming ugly years down the road? Unfortunately while Marware does sell the keyboard cover separately, the Apple Store only had them in the combo pack for $20. I decided since I was worried about the wrist rest it might be worth having the protective sticker just in case. I put the thing on just for kicks, and this was the result:

It looks as professional as it can under the circumstances, although again it’s not quite cut right to fit the trackpad perfectly. I played with it for a few minutes, took some pictures, and then closed the screen. It wouldn’t latch. Maybe because of the four teeny-tiny bumpers around the top of the screen, maybe that made it just a little too thick. I don’t care why. After several attempts to press the lid down, I pulled the sticker up and stuck it back on its backing and put it away. This to me was final confirmation that it’s simply unnatural to cover up a MBP like that, and I will take my chances without it.

I was also interested in this trackpad protector. I’ve never had a problem with a trackpad, but as I said my PB’s trackpad button is all messed up. It was reported to be basically invisible (it’s on in that picture above), and it is. However, I did have a lot of trouble with the trackpad response. I have seen reviews saying it’s fine, and some saying it’s less responsive. I had trouble adjusting, but then again I had a lot of trouble with the MBP’s trackpad when I first got it and now have gotten used to it. I didn’t give it much time, not even a full day, before removing it. But I kept the button cover on, and saved the trackpad cover. The box actually comes with two of each, which is nice of them.

So after all that I am still using the keyboard cover and the protective sticker on the trackpad button, and I feel like I’m doing my part to keep my MBP in good condition.

July 10, 2007

Oh My God, It’s a Truck!

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:12 pm

When I arrived at the theatre today, I was shocked upon arriving at our parking lot to find a trailer parked at the loading dock. I was highly confused about what show we were doing, as it’s not customary for a truck to show up on the day of the first dress rehearsal. I quickly realized that this must be the first of the 42nd Street trucks, arriving simply because it can. Reagle owns the set, which like all of the sets that they rent out, is stored in its trailers and parked at an off-site facility when it’s not needed, packed and ready to be driven wherever it needs to go when rented. It won’t be unloaded just yet, but as King and I‘s set is almost completely stored on the deck, there is lots of room in the shop for 42nd Street to start coming in and being put together during the run of King and I.

Tonight was our first dress rehearsal, first rehearsal with orchestra, and the first time we ran the show like a performance. Usually these things don’t all happen on the same night, but the show is in such good shape, the slightly unconventional schedule shouldn’t hurt us at all. I called the show from the booth tonight. This was only my second time calling a real run, and the first time to really get the uninterrupted flow of the show, but I find it so relaxing I didn’t mind. Our master electrician suggested it because she reminded me that when I call from the tech table with the orchestra, the sound is so loud that it gets into my headset and drowns out the calls. I normally move to the booth for the Tuesday run, but usually having had the first dress on Monday to call from the tech table. The show is very quiet at times and we’ve had to really struggle for the crew to be able to talk quietly enough so it isn’t distracting, but loud enough to hear each other. So as much as I wanted to stay in the house for one more day, it was more important that I be able to speak as much and as loudly as I have to, so I welcomed the move to the booth.

The run went very well. I had to adjust a little bit, as always, to figure out what I’m listening for in the orchestra in cases where it sounds much different than it did on the piano. I’m having a great time calling this show. It’s easy, but quite rewarding. All the design elements are beautiful and complement each other very well, I find the show itself funny and moving, the actors are great to watch, the dancers are amazing, the singers sound wonderful, the kids are cute. The show is looking to be a solid three hours with intermission, but I have not yet gotten bored while calling it. And calling the ballet is like its own little show-within-a-show, and while it’s still relatively easy, it stretches slightly different stage management muscles, so it provides a nice change of pace for about ten minutes toward the beginning of the second act. We have one more dress rehearsal and then the first performance at 2:00 on Thursday.

July 7, 2007

King and I Tech

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:14 pm

Done. We had a very successful tech today. Despite my bold predictions earlier in the week that we would be able to run the show or at least one act by tonight, we did not. We did, however, finish the show in less than our ten working hours. In fact — I can’t say I have ever had this experience — we finished the show, let the cast go, had our production meeting, and stood up to go home at 9:55. Rehearsal was scheduled from 10AM – 10PM. We were all shocked that we were leaving before the day should even have been over.

We didn’t really end that early, maybe 20 minutes at most. The tricky part was that we teched the show out of order. It’s always an issue in shows with a large cast of young children, especially those that aren’t getting paid, to figure out how to use the kids’ time without unnecessarily keeping them up past their bedtime, or simply wearing them out to the point where a four-year-old just doesn’t feel like going onstage or doing her blocking. So we called the kids first thing in the morning and teched all of their scenes first, which happen to also be the most complicated by virtue of having 50-something people on stage. After several hours the kids were dismissed, but we did not go back to the top of the show because the first scene change is an absolute nightmare, with only a silent and rather uncomplicated crossover to cover it. Anna, her son Louis and the Kralahome (King’s prime minister) arrive at the palace. Two sailors are following with a large trunk. They cross from stage left to stage right. That’s it. Meanwhile there’s five pipes flying, and about 20 people on the deck required to move all the scenery (for which we’ve used some of the non-union cast to supplement the crew).

Because of all the people involved and the need to assign and teach the change to the cast, we began with scene two and teched from there until the lunch break. The crew set up the first scene during the break. It’s on board a ship — there’s several flats including the ship’s cabin and smokestack, the sides of the ship, a big paddle wheel thing, a bunch of crates and trunks — a lot of it was supposed to be flown, but this goes back to the issue at the production meeting about ugly aircraft cables ruining the look. So before even attempting the scene we ran the scene change twice.

Because we weren’t attempting to run the scene, I had the unique experience of being on the deck during a crazy scene change. Normally I sit comfortably at the tech table, call the drop in, and then listen on headset to frantic banging and squeaking and calls of “Fly this out! Over there! OK, clipped! Downstage! Bring it in!” then some more banging and squeaking, the sound of counterweights whizzing up and down on the rail, then a few calls of “We’re ready. Are you ready over there? We look ready. OK, clear!” then I say, “Go,” the drop flies, and there’s a nice shiny new set on the stage. So when I realized this I went and got my camera. Unfortunately the video is not nearly as interesting as I hoped it would be. First of all I wasn’t able to get it on at the beginning because I was given the honor of calling the start of the scene change and also fumbling to start a stopwatch. And then for some reason I turned the camera off before it was completely over, probably to stop my stopwatch, or maybe because I realized how lame the video already was. But here it is, shot from stage left.

It’s not quite a well-oiled machine at this point (this was attempt #2, 1 minute 15 seconds), but after this we went back and ran from the beginning of the show through the scene change, and the crew and crewlike castmembers were done quite a bit before the onstage cast, who were expertly dragging out what could have been a 10-second cross into an entire play about people walking down a hallway. I’m sure it will only get faster. Actually, the show was written with a whole silent scene there in which we see the palace dancers preparing for the next scene in which they dance for the King — purposely put there to fill time while this unavoidable Huge Scene Change takes place. The alternative if you have a quick scene change is for Anna and company to simply walk across the stage with their boxes in tow. We went the optimistic route, mostly because all the large pieces were supposed to fly, but I think it’s going to be fine.

So after running that change successfully, we then skipped ahead to where we were when we broke for lunch, and continued from there in order, but skipping the second half of the last scene in Act I, which we covered earlier with the children. People love speculating about how long tech is going to take. I’m an optimistic person, but I’m also a realist, and I also know it’s better to make pessimistic guesses so people won’t be disappointed when it takes longer. By lunch we knew we were moving along well, and people would say so, but then in a low voice they would usually say, “We’re going to be spending all night on the ballet, aren’t we?” “Do you think we’ll end the night with the ballet?” “The ballet is going to take a long time, isn’t it?” I think we got to intermission somewhere around 7PM. This was when a lot of the real speculation started. My answer was, “Yes. Hours. I expect 1-2 hours, but I think we’ll still finish the show.” I wasn’t keeping score, but I think it probably took a half hour to 45 minutes.

First of all, you may remember I got to see the entire ballet on the third day of rehearsal. The dancers know it inside out, so there was no problem there. They did it in costume for the first time, and aside from Simon of Legree’s giant mask/headpiece being too loose on her head and having to be removed, they didn’t seem to miss a beat with the addition of costumes. This isn’t a dress rehearsal, but in many cases we added costume pieces when possible and where they would cause potential issues, like for dancers. We had a few small things to take care of, like spiking the location for the gong, and assigning who places it. Once we had done those kind of housekeeping things, we ran it once and were due for a ten minute break. Gemze seemed pretty happy with it, and declined to work anything or give formal notes before running it again when we were back from the break. The second run was especially helpful as we had some followspot assignments that needed to be worked out in a more efficient way, which we applied the second time through.

I said yesterday I was worried about the rapid pace of cues and losing my place among all the “Run, Eliza, run”‘s, but when the time came I didn’t have any trouble. My first attempt was not at all embarrassing, which was a nice change from the Singin’ in the Rain ballet, where up until the final performance I was never quite sure if I was about to make an ass of myself. The key with this one is that it requires 100% concentration, and with that it’s actually quite easy to call. I just can’t lose my place or fall behind, because there’s not much time between cues, and once you’re lost it’s not immediately evident where you are in the script.

After the ballet it was clear sailing. One by one ensemble members with little to do in Act II were dismissed. We were not running the finale or bows because we did them earlier with the kids. By the end of the day we were down to a book scene with just a couple actors, right before the finale. And thus, with a gentle sigh, ended our tech, about 15 minutes early.

Tomorrow we tech from 10:00AM – 6:30PM. We had hoped to do two runs, but we have already scheduled a 2:30 run. Because of the need to give the kids a definite call time regardless of where we ended up today, we scheduled an afternoon run in advance so they could just arrive at half hour. I picked 2:30 because I didn’t feel comfortable with less than four hours to run the show (I’m guessing it will ultimately clock in at about 2:45 with intermission), give notes, and allowing extra padding for any unforeseen disasters. So that means a 1:00 lunch, and we’re not going to be able to call the cast, get them in mics, and run the show in three hours. I mean it’s conceivable, but highly unlikely. So we’re going to do the same thing we did tonight and skip the kids’ scenes since they won’t be there. Then we run in the afternoon, and after dinner the orchestra has their first rehearsal, which also serves as a partial sitzprobe for the cast to sing with the orchestra for the first time, before they have to do it on Tuesday in dress rehearsal. For this sitzprobe we are calling the singers and dancers who are in the ballet, so they can hear tempos and such and avoid any problems, and once that’s done they’ll be released. Then the principals will stay to sing their songs and make any necessary changes or requests. Then we go home to enjoy our daylight day of rest.

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